Thursday, December 31, 2009

From the Heart of Leonard Ravenhill

Some 60 years ago, most all good churches had a street meeting. But now that light of testimony has gone out. Then there used to be a weekly prayer meeting in most churches; that light, too, has gone out. There used to be a Sunday night meeting, but in most churches, that light has gone out. There also used to be a family altar, but in most homes now, that light has gone out as well. And there used to be 10 lights (Commandments) in every schoolroom. Now that light has gone out. But God will arise and yet scatter His enemies.

Prophets, God ordained, must arise,
Prophets are holy men,
Prophets are lonely men,
True prophets are not appeasers, but opposers,
Prophets are definite, defiant, and difficult.

The man who bows the knee to the Father will not bow the knee to compromise.

A man must hear the voice of God before he can be a voice for God.

Man’s only options are the blood of the Lamb or the wrath of the Lamb.

Smart men walked on the moon, daring men walked on the ocean floor, but wise men walk with God.

- Leonard Ravenhill

Divine Providence in the Smallest Things a Basis for Joy and Hope

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" - Matthew 10:29-30

C. H. Spurgeon said, "It is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence, as the most startling events. He who counts the stars has also numbered the hairs of our heads. Our lives and deaths are predestined, but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up!"

How right Spurgeon is and how much we must see God's gracious, loving, intimate and sovereign control and involvement in every atom of the universe and every atom of our lives and existence. Notice what Jesus does not say: "The very hairs of your head are all COUNTED." He says they are numbered--numbered just like the stars individually by name; every hair on our head is numbered; for some of us, we have lost some numbers over the years, but the hairs we still have are intimately known and kept by He who calls every star by name.

I am glad today that absolutely nothing--nothing can happen to the Christian without the Father's immediate control and presence. Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater. If sparrows are completely under the intimate eye and always in the presence of the living God, then how much more the lives of His beloved children, right down to the smallest issues like the very hairs of our head; and if our hairs, how much more all the greater realities of life--what comes our way, what providences happen to us, our needs being met, whatever sicknesses or trials that come--we have a Keeper whose love and watching eye is ever on us; it is even more than that--we have His presence with and in us, never to be separated or disconnected from His perfect loving care and ruling in all things.

Spurgeon again-- "His divine providence in our lives and death, but also, our sitting down and our rising up."

Divine Providence makes my heart glad and rejoice with confidence and hope, not in myself, but in Him alone.

- Mack Tomlinson

Monday, December 28, 2009

No Other Book like It

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its history is true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter.

Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever.

It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

— Anonymous

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Keeping Perspective when under Trials

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16

"For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die!" 1 Corinthians 15:53

The lesson of the imperishable life has a special application to those who suffer from sickness or from any bodily affliction. It will help us to endure physical sufferings quietly and unmurmuringly, if we will remember that it is only the outward man that can be touched and affected by these experiences, and that the inward man may not only be kept unharmed, but may be growing all the while in beauty and strength, being spiritually renewed through pain and suffering.

A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop in a great city one day noticed that there was one little place in his dark room from which he could get a view of green fields, blue skies and faraway hills. He wisely set up his bench at that point so that at any moment he could lift his eyes from his dull work and have a glimpse of the great, beautiful world outside.

Just so, from the darkest sick-room and from the midst of the keenest sufferings, there is always a point from which we can see the face of Christ and have a glimpse of the glory of heaven. If only we will find this place and get this vision, it will make it easy to endure even the greatest suffering.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down, when we die and leave these bodies, we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing." 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Sickness is discouraging and hard to bear. But we should remember that doing of the will of God is always the noblest, holiest thing we can do any hour, however hard it may be for us. If we are called to suffer, let us suffer patiently and sweetly. Under all our sharp trials, let us keep the peace of God in our hearts. The outward man may indeed decay, but the inward man will be renewed day by day.

- J. R. Miller

Learning in Christ's School

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in need."
- Philippians 4:11-12

Contentment comes from learning to do without things which we once supposed to be essential to our comfort.
- J. R. Miller

Life is a 'school'. All its experiences are 'lessons'. We are all in 'Christ's school' and He is always 'educating' us.

Disciples are learners and all true Christians are disciples. We enter the lowest grade when we begin to be Christians. We have everything to learn. Each new experience is a new lesson set for us by the great Teacher.

The business of noble Christian living is learning. We know nothing when we begin. Learning is not confined to what we get from reading books. All of life is a school. 'Christ's books' are ever being put into our hands, and 'lessons' are set for us continually.

Paul tells us of one of the lessons he had learned in the 'school of experience'. "I have learned," he said, "the secret of being content in any and every situation." We are glad to know that Paul had to learn to be contented. We are apt to think that such a man as he was did not have to learn to live as we common people do, that he always knew, for instance, how to be contented. Here, however, we have the confession that he had to learn the lesson just as we do. He did not always know the secret of contentment. He was well on in years when he said this, from which we conclude that it took him a long time to learn the lesson and that it was not easy for him to do it. Christ's school is not easy.

Sorrow is a choice lesson in Christ's school. Sorrow is not an accident breaking into our life, without meaning or purpose. God could prevent the coming of the sorrow if He so desired. He has all power, and nothing can touch the life of any of His children unless He is willing. Since we know that God loves us and yet permits us to suffer, we may be quite sure that there is a blessing, something good, in whatever it is that brings us pain or sorrow.

We shrink from pain. We would run away from afflictions. We would refuse to accept sorrow. But there are things worth suffering for, things dearer than ease and pleasure. We learn lessons in pain which repay a thousand times--the cost of our tears!

The Bible tells us that God preserves the tears of His children, putting them in His tear-bottle. Tears are sacred to God, because of the blessings that come through them to His children. In heaven we will look back on our lives of pain and sorrow on the earth and will find that our best lessons have come through our tears!

All the Christian graces have to be learned in 'Christ's school'. There Paul had learned contentment. He never would have learned it, however, if he had had only pleasure and ease all his life. Contentment comes from learning to do without things, which we once supposed to be essential to our comfort. Paul had learned contentment through finding such fullness of blessing in Christ that he did not need the 'secondary things' any more.

Perhaps we would succeed better in learning this same grace if we had fewer of life's comforts and if sometimes we experience need. The continuity of blessings that flow like a river into our lives gives us no opportunity to learn contentment.

When sufferings come into our life . . .

disagreeable things--instead of pleasant things;
hunger and poverty--instead of plenty;
rough ways--instead of flower-strewn paths;

God is teaching us the lesson of contentment, so that we can say at length, that we have learned the secret of being content!

- J. R. Miller

The Real Christmas Story -- John MacArthur

The Real Christmas Story -- John MacArthur

The Promise of His Guidance

"Show me the way I should walk, for I come to you in prayer." Psalm 143:8

We cannot know the way ourselves. The path across one little day seems very short, but none of us can find it ourselves. Each day is a hidden world to our eyes as we enter it in the morning. We cannot see one step before us as we go forth. An impenetrable veil covers the brightest day, as with night's black robes. It may have joys and prosperities for us or it may bring to us sorrows and adversities. Our path may lead us into a garden or the garden may be a Gethsemane. We have our plans as we go out in the morning, but we are not sure that they will be realized. The day will bring duties, responsibilities, temptations, perils, tangles which our fingers cannot unravel, and obscure paths in which we cannot find the way.

What could be more fitting in the morning than the prayer, "Show me the way I should walk!" God knows all that is in the day for us. His eye sees to its close and He will be our guide.

There is no promise given more repeatedly in the Bible than that of divine guidance. We have it in the shepherd psalm, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness." Paths of righteousness are right paths. All God's paths are clean and holy; they are the ways of His commandments. But there is another sense in which they are right paths. They are the right ways because they are the best ways for us. Often they are not the ways which we would have chosen. They do not seem to be good ways. But nevertheless they are right and lead to blessing and honor. We are always safe, therefore, in praying this prayer on the morning of any day, "Show me the way I should walk!"

- J. R. Miller

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Wife's Encouragement to her Husband

Men are often told how much their wives need encouragement. And it is so true. Men are often exhorted to give encouragement to their wives. And it is always a need for us to do so.

But it is just as true that women need to encourage their husbands as well. A wife's words are a very powerful means of bringing either discouragement or encouragement to their husband.

Here are the words of one wife to her husband that were brought to my attention. Had to be a real encouragement to him!

"Let me count the ways that I love you in the midst of life!

You are my love

You love the Lord more each day

You are willing to keep trying

You put up with so much from a wife like me

You are forgiving

You desire to seek the Lord first

You love your family

You stay in touch with friends

You study to show yourself approved

You are persevering

You cast all your cares upon the Lord, and why wouldn't you do that?-- He cares for you

You are always willing to pitch in and help at home

You are willing to care for your children and grandchildren

You keep your hair combed

You remember to turn your socks right side out for the wash

You have lovely green eyes

You endure painful situations

You trust in the Lord with all your heart

You keep on trusting Him

You encourage others to know the Lord

You are willing to go to the ends of the earth to obey the Lord

You are wise with your time

and I will continue this list at another time...........................

Have a great night."

I have a feeling her husband was encouraged and more ready than ever to keep doing the things she mentioned.

Wives, encourage your husbands-- it'll do em good and they'll become better husbands and better men.

- Mack Tomlinson

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christian Athletes Refused to Participate in the Olympics

In 2000, Chris Harmse of South Africa was a hammer thrower who held the record on the African continent for that event. A big man in every way, he had qualified for the South African team during a pre-Olympic event in Croatia on July 15 that summer. Then he discovered that the final of the hammer throw would take place the following Sunday. A Christian, he agonized over his decision before deciding that the Lord's Day was more important to him than throwing the hammer for his country. Sam Ramsamy, the president of the South Africa National Olympic Committee, respected his decision.

Harmse was only the second Olympian to ever withdraw from the games for religious reasons. One must go back to 1924 when the Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell dropped out of the 100 meter race in Paris because the final took place on the Sabbath.

Jonathan Edwards, England's world record triple jumper and hope for a gold medal in Sydney, began his athletic career by refusing to take part in Sunday games. The son of a preacher, he was married to a missionary's daughter. But he later changed his mind about this, claiming a revelation had come to him encouraging him to jump on the Lord's Day.

Edwards says, "My relationship with Jesus and with God is fundamental to everything I do. I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship to serve God in every area of my life including Triple Jump. The most important news, though, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many exciting things have happened to me in my life, but the most crucial is that my sins have been forgiven and I know God."

Eric Liddell managed to negotiate an unheard-of switch from the 100 meter race which he had been scheduled to run to the 400 meter, for which he had not trained, later in the week. On July 11, 1924, Liddell won that race and was showered with Olympic glory.

Instead of cashing in, Liddell turned his back on fame and fortune and followed in his parents' footsteps, becoming a missionary in China, where his most powerful contributions to God and to his fellow humans were made.

Cal Thomas points out that in our day of focus groups and leadership weakened by uncertainty of belief, Eric Liddell's example continues to stand out. A fanatic might have demanded that others not run on Sunday either and organized a group to enact legislation to conform society to his point of view. Not Liddell. He just said he wouldn't run. Some newspapers denounced him as a traitor to his country and king. How quickly they changed their tune when he won a gold medal. Had he yielded to temptation and compromised his beliefs, we might never have heard of him again.

The account of the race in the July 12, 1924, Times of London conveys the excitement of that day in Paris:

"Liddell had the outside berth - generally considered the worst place. ... There was a perfect start, and from the first jump-off the pace looked, and was, terrific. Two men of the six fell. ... But that made no difference, for there was never more than one man in the race, and it was the pace he set that fairly ran them off their legs. Sweeping round into the straight Liddell led by four or five yards, and increased his lead by a couple of yards more in the run home. No one ever looked like catching him ... When the time was given out ... and it was realized that, for the third time in two days, the world's 'record' had been lowered, the Stadium went insane ... ."

When Liddell left Edinburgh for China the following year, the number of people wanting to bid him farewell was so large that 1,000 were unable to get in. Twenty years later he was taken prisoner with other missionaries and Westerners and became one of 1,800 crowded into a Japanese camp. His personal space had shrunk to three by six feet. Before his arrest, Liddell managed to get his wife and two children to safety in Canada (Florence Liddell was pregnant at the time with their third daughter, whom Eric would not live to see). He died of a brain tumour on Feb. 21, 1945.

At the end of "Chariots of Fire," producer David Puttnam put on the screen: "Eric Liddell, missionary, died in occupied China at the end of World War II. All of Scotland mourned."

Press accounts of the 1980 premiere of the film in Edinburgh told of huge crowds. How fitting. The people of Scotland, who had shared their native son with China, were welcoming him back and affirming the note given to Liddell by his masseur before that 1924 race. It referred to the Biblical passage 1 Samuel 2:30: "He who honours Me, I will honour." And so He did. And so He still does years later.

- Geoff Thomas

God-blest Preaching

When the town-crier comes through the street he opens his mouth and he's a free man. He's free in the sense that he's not biting his nails nervously wondering "Oh, how will this news fall upon the ears of Mrs. So and So in the light of what I happen to know about her through my second cousin and her aunt who lives around the corner. I'm just....oh my....I'm just." No, no!

The town-crier opens his mouth and he heralds the message! Why? Because he's conscious of his identity as a herald appointed by the sovereign to his task. That was the mark of the preaching owned of God at Iconium. These men so spake. That was one of the marks of their preaching when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men.

In other words, it was not boldness fostered by and buttressed with credentials that would impress the world. Just the opposite was true. It was the very fact that they didn't have the world's credentials and yet dared to hurl the word of God into the consciences of men.

They said, "What in the world makes these men tick? They are unlearned and ignorant men in terms of our standards of what makes a man competent to speak to others. They're fisherman and they're talking to us - the doctors of the law. That ain't kosher! "Don't you know we know philosophy. What do you know about philosophy?"

"Not too much, except God calls it the wisdom of this world which comes to naught."

"Well, don't you know that's insulting to Plato and to Socrates?"

"Sorry fellows."

"The wisdom of this world that comes to naught - what do you know of it?"

"Not much"

"What do you know of the world's opinion of this and that?"

"Not much."

"Well, what in the world do you know?"

"I know my Master's message."

"And when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John perceiving they were unlearned and ignorant men they took note of them that they had been with Jesus."

What is essential is that in this formative period God molds men who understand their identity as the heralds of God so that holy boldness marks their preaching, boldness that will be suffused with tenderness and with gentleness. Many times perhaps with the softest tones of entreaty but never marked by that nervous biting of the nails because "Oh this might offend this one and that truth may offend another", men who speak with all calling forth of the message of their Master, and that's a spiritual quality - not a personality characteristic.

That's why Paul asked Christians to pray that God would give it to him. Isn't that what he said in Ephesians? He said, "Pray for all saints and pray for me." That what may be given to me? What did he pray for? "That boldness may be given unto me. That I may open my mouth and speak boldly as I ought to speak."

When our Lord himself preaches the gospel how does he preach it? He says, "He that believeth not is condemned already." He doesn't put the emphasis on, "Oh well, you don't have the fullness of joy and peace that you could have." Now that is a truth, but I'm saying that's not the predominant emphasis of Scripture. There on the day of Pentecost what does it say when they heard these things? Did they started to jump up with eagerness saying, 'Oh that's wonderful! You've got something better than we've got.' No. It says they were stabbed to the heart and they cried out, "What shall we do?"

What happened to the Philippian jailer? The same thing. He comes in trembling saying, "Sirs. what must I do to be saved?"

You see when the town-crier came, he never came with trivia. And I say to you men, on whom God has laid his hand. May God shut your mouth the day seriousness ceases to be one of the predominant characteristics of your preaching.

Do you believe in heaven with all its glories? And do you believe in hell with all its frightening agonies? Do you believe that weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth are not poetic images? Then in God's name, how can we help but be serious? And that's why I say to every unconverted man or woman boy or girl. God have mercy upon you if you trifle with the gospel. It's life to life and death to death.

- Al Martin

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sovereign Ruler of the Skies

Sovereign ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at Thy command.

His decrees who formed the earth
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by Him.

He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.

Times the tempter's power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour's love;
All must come, and last , and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till He bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

- John Ryland (1753-1825)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Like the Dew

"They will be like dew sent by the Lord." Micah 5:7

The lives of godly people are sometimes compared to the dew. One point of likeness, is the quiet way in which the dew performs its ministry. It falls silently and imperceptibly. It makes no noise. No one hears it dropping. It chooses its time in the night when men are sleeping, when none can see its beautiful work. It covers the leaves with clusters of pearls. It steals into the bosoms of the flowers, and leaves new cupfuls of sweetness there. It pours itself down among the roots of the grasses and tender herbs and plants. It loses itself altogether, and yet it is not lost. For in the morning there is fresh life everywhere, and new beauty. The fields are greener, the gardens are more fragrant, and all nature is clothed in fresh luxuriance!

Is there not in this simile a suggestion as to the way we should seek to do good in this world? Should we not wish to have our influence felt while no one thinks of us, rather than that we should be seen and heard and praised? Should we not be willing to lose ourselves in the service of self-forgetful love, as the dew loses itself in the bosom of the rose--caring only that other lives shall be sweeter, happier, and holier, and not that honor shall come to us? We are too anxious, some of us, that our names shall be written in large letters on the things we do, even on what we do for our Master; and are not willing to sink ourselves out of sight and let Him alone have the praise.

Our Lord's teaching on the subject is very plain. He says: "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." That is, they have that which they seek--the applause of men.

"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." The meaning would seem to be, that we are not to wish people to know of our good deeds, our charities, our self-denials; that we should not seek publicity, when we give money or do good works; indeed, that we are not even to tell ourselves what we have done; that we are not to think about our own good deeds so as to become conscious of them; not to put them down in our diaries and go about complimenting ourselves, throwing bouquets at ourselves, and whispering: "How good I am! What fine things I have done!"

This is an insightful test of our lives. Are we willing to be as the dew--to steal abroad in the darkness, carrying blessings to men's doors, blessings that shall enrich the lives of others and do them good--and then steal away again before those we have helped or blessed awaken, to know what hand it was that brought the gift? Are we willing to work for others . . .

without gratitude,
without recognition,
without human praise,
without requital?

Are we content to have our lives poured out like the dew--to bless the world and make it more fruitful--and yet remain hidden away ourselves? Is it enough for us to see the fruits of our toil and sacrifice in others' spiritual growth, and deeper happiness; yet never hear our names spoken in praise or honor, perhaps even hearing others praised for things we have done?

If you go about doing good in simple ways, in gentle kindnesses, not thinking of reward, not dreaming of praise, not hoping for any return--you are enshrining your name where it will have immortal honor! Our lesson teaches us that this is the way we are to live if we are followers of Christ!

- J. R. Miller

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things Missing in Modern Preaching

Among things missing in much preaching today, I regret the following:

1. Too often no distinct text is announced at the outset (almost as though a text is a boring way to start a sermon). But nothing was more important. In former times; a preacher often gave out his text twice.

2. Lack of passion and urgency

3. On the the part of the preacher, there is a lack of faith-- not a lack of faith in his message, but of faith in Christ to enable him to speak in His name without dependence on a written manuscript. There is too much paper in pulpits!

4. Lack of memorization of Scripture! We all ought to know much more Scripture by heart than we do, and especially preachers. An occasional turning up of a reference with the congregation is understandable, but to make a practice of it, and to fail to quote Scripture freely, is to diminish what preaching ought to be.

5. Far better to be short than to be dull! A number of eminent preachers could be quoted who did not think 20 minutes is too short or is unacceptable. There ought to be more variation.

- Iain Murray

Sinners Always Avoid the Obvious

A friend recently mentioned they heard someone ask Martha Stewart the question, "You are so busy and active. What would you do if you got sick?", to which Stewart replied, "Sick? I'm too busy to get sick; I can't get sick; I don't have time to get sick; don't talk about getting sick; I don't want to even think about it."

Such is the world's attitude and approach to reality. Sickness?- "I don't like the subject"; Sin?- "don't talk to me about that religious stuff"; Death?- "O, that's morbid, why don't you talk about something pleasant?"

Often unbelievers, when facing the end of life, they and their families won't even discuss death and the need to be ready and face it; instead, the attitude is, "let's just enjoy and have fun in the remaining time we've got with you- let's be pleasant, laugh, eat, share memories, and be positive; we don't want to be discouraging and negative; let's all smile and be positive." Let's translate that:

Denial- "I don't want to talk about it."

The largest, most applicable realities that affect life the most are those that the world doesn't want to deal with it; Instead, they will only talk food, fun times, cars, movies, jokes, clothes, gossip, the latest Tiger Woods news, college football, movie stars, and fads. It's not that they only want to talk about lesser temporals, those are the only things that are real to unbelievers so its all they can talk about.

If God, Jesus Christ, sin, sickness, death, and eternity are not real to you, then you will have no interest in thinking about or focusing upon the greater issues of life, living, dying, and entering eternity.

So I would ask Ms. Stewart, "Well, Martha, when you come to die, will you be cooking then? What will you do when sickness does come and you are not before the cameras, but instead are on a sick bed-- what will you do then? Then, you will have time to be sick. When death comes to you, then you will face it. You may not want to think about it now, but then you will have no choice."

Sickness and / or death are fast approaching, and you will have a personal encounter with the irresistible force of every greater reality--sickness, death, eternity, and facing God in judgment and the unavoidable appointment of standing before the judge of the universe, Jesus Christ; then, you will not discuss cooking, or aunt Molly, or Facebook or Twittering, or the latest fad; when that day comes, guess what will be real then? Him and eternity and your fixed eternal destiny.

And guess what will not be in the thoughts of unbelievers then? Food, fun times, cars, movies, jokes, clothes, gossip, the latest Tiger Woods news, college football, movie stars, and fads.

"I don't like to think about it?" Every unbeliever, including Martha Stewart, needs to get real, get honest, get a Bible, and get to the Saviour to get ready. Now is the only time to think about it.

- Mack Tomlinson

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sinners Always Avoid the Obvious

A friend recently mentioned they heard someone ask Martha Stewart the question, "You are so busy and active. What would you do if you got sick?", to which Stewart replied, "Sick? I'm too busy to get sick; I can't get sick; I don't have time to get sick; don't talk about getting sick; I don't want to even think about it."

Such is the world's attitude and approach to reality. Sickness?- "I don't like the subject"; Sin?- "don't talk to me about that religious stuff"; Death?- "O, that's morbid, why don't you talk about something pleasant?"

Often unbelievers, when facing the end of life, they and their families won't even discuss death and the need to be ready and face it; instead, the attitude is, "let's just enjoy and have fun in the remaining time we've got with you- let's be pleasant, laugh, eat, share memories, and be positive; we don't want to be discouraging and negative; let's all smile and be positive." Let's translate that:

Denial- "I don't want to talk about it."

The largest, most applicable realities that affect life the most are those that the world doesn't want to deal with it; Instead, they will only talk food, fun times, cars, movies, jokes, clothes, gossip, the latest Tiger Woods news, college football, movie stars, and fads. It's not that they only want to talk about lesser temporals, those are the only things that are real to unbelievers so its all they can talk about.

If God, Jesus Christ, sin, sickness, death, and eternity are not real to you, then you will have no interest in thinking about or focusing upon the greater issues of life, living, dying, and entering eternity.

So I would ask Ms. Stewart, "Well, Martha, when you come to die, will you be cooking then? What will you do when sickness does come and you are not before the cameras, but instead are on a sick bed-- what will you do then? Then, you will have time to be sick. When death comes to you, then you will face it. You may not want to think about it now, but then you will have no choice."

Sickness and / or death are fast approaching, and you will have a personal encounter with the irresistible force of every greater reality--sickness, death, eternity, and facing God in judgment and the unavoidable appointment of standing before the judge of the universe, Jesus Christ; then, you will not discuss cooking, or aunt Molly, or Facebook or Twittering, or the latest fad; when that day comes, guess what will be real then? Him and eternity and your fixed eternal destiny.

And guess what will not be in the thoughts of unbelievers then? Food, fun times, cars, movies, jokes, clothes, gossip, the latest Tiger Woods news, college football, movie stars, and fads.

"I don't like to think about it?" Every unbeliever, including Martha Stewart, needs to get real, get honest, get a Bible, and get to the Saviour to get ready. Now is the only time to think about it.

- Mack Tomlinson

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Channel to Bless the World

I have thought much this Christmas season about the Lord being born of Mary. He could have come down as Elijah went up, in a chariot of fire. The Jews would have received Him then. But God took Mary--her body, her emotions, her substance and all she had, and through her He gave us His Son. In the same way, He blesses the world, not merely by what we say, but by what we offer. He takes what we have and through it, makes a channel to bless others.

We are to be broken bread and poured out wine, that through us by the indwelling Spirit, others are reached. Channels only, blessed Master.

Leonard Ravenhill, 1965

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Faithful Keeper

Psalm 121

What a great reality that it is God who keeps us or we would not be kept. What a thought and what a fact that it is He alone that keeps us in all our ways. Just think for a moment what God promises us in this regard. In Psalm 121, we are told no less than six times in six verses that God is keeping us.

He who keeps you will not slumber- vs. 3

Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep- vs. 4

The Lord is your keeper- vs. 5

The Lord will keep you from all evil- vs 7

He will keep your life- vs 7

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore- vs. 8

I am so glad, so thankful, and so comforted by the fact that it is Christ who keeps us. I can't even keep my desk straight and clean--how then could I keep my life and soul preserved for the future and for eternity? How could we keep ourselves from the enemy? How could we keep ourselves from being overcome by life? We could not and we cannot keep ourselves. We would not be kept unless One infinitely greater than ourselves was not keeping us every moment.

Kept by the power of God through faith- 1 Peter 1:5

Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee- Isaiah 26:3

Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before His presence with great joy- Jude 24


I am so glad of this certainty
That my King ever keeps me;
Preserved to the end I shall be
Kept by grace full and free.

Kept by love that never fails
Goodness and mercy my life do trail;
Kept by wisdom never ending
Kept by grace He keeps sending.

Kept by Him through promises unfailing
Kept for Him by power ere flowing;
Kept by Him till this life shall end
Kept for Him till this race I win.

Kept by Him unto eternity
Kept for Him forever I'll be;
Kept by Him till my days are done
Kept for Him till my course is run.

- Mack Tomlinson

What The Church Needs Most Today

What the church needs most of all today is the Word of God to be preached in the power of the Holy Spirit. I don't chase revival because revival does not come by chasing it; Revival comes by chasing Christ and by being conformed to the image of Christ.

- Paul Washer

Monday, December 7, 2009

Effects of God’s Sovereign and Undeserved Grace

1) It humbles us. We did not provide the decisive impulse that brought us to Christ. God did. We came because of him. If it weren’t for his drawing, I would utterly lost. God have mercy on me if I am not humble because of this truth.

2) It fills us with thankfulness. Everything I have, including my coming to Jesus, is a gift. O how thankful I am for sovereign grace. Aren’t you?

3) It gives us assurance. For if he drew us to himself freely and omnipotently, then he will keep us to the end. This is the great ground of our assurance. Those whom he called he justified, and those whom he justified he glorified.

4) From this, we get hope for the conversion of the people we love who seem utterly beyond hope. If conversion is decisively dependent on human character and on decades of habit, we would despair over many sinners. But nothing is too hard for God. When God calls the dead, they rise. When God draws his sheep, they come.

5) Finally, all glory goes to God, not to us. This is why God saves the way he does. All glory belongs to him. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalms 115:1).

Jesus does not speak mainly to create controversy. He speaks to call sinners to himself, and to humble the proud, and to glorify his Father. This is why he lived. This is why he died. This is why he rose again. Come to him. Be satisfied in him. Be humbled by him. Give glory to God because of him.

- John Piper

Today You Be the Minister at Church or...

Today You Be the Minister at Church
How to Really do Church
How to Have Church Body Life
What Ministry Can I Have at Church?

I hope you get this before you go to church today. If so, think about this plan for your preparing to go to the church meeting.

Do you think your pastor or the elder who is preaching today has probably prepared at all for the service? Do you think his heart and mind have done some preparation and that he is going to show up at the meeting, having a heart to minister to others, and will specifically offer the congregation something he has prepared? Will he consciously bring something that they he hopes, by God's grace, will be used by the Lord to edify the body?

I want to encourage you to do exactly that today. Don't just go to receive something, though God does want you to receive today. Don't just go to get, though we do need to get benefit. Do not go empty-handed or with an unprepared heart.

Why don't YOU be the minister today? How? Here's a free trial sample of how you can.

Being prepared means you are consciously choosing to do some or all of the following.

1. Go to your church meeting today determined to have a heart before God to be a blessing to others there.

2. Go to your church meeting today with a plan to greet with sincerity each person you come in contact with.

3. Consciously and purposely be a blessing to those you engage at the meeting.

4. Choose the 'least' or 'weakest' among you, and show them love, give them a hug, and say or share something appropriate with them that will show them you care for them today.

5. Work at going out of your way to be friendly and find out how others are doing and ask specifically how you can pray for them.

6. EXPRESS verbal appreciation and love for different ones; choose to go outside your comfort zone and go up to a few people and tell them, with words. Undoubtedly, there are a number of the brethren you worship with and are supposed to be committed to and your never or rarelyand it has been weeks, months, or even longer (perhaps never with some of them) that you have expressed that you are thankful for them and that they have been a blessing to you.

7. Make yourself go out of your way and get out of your little Sunday rut and seek out a number of people individually.

- if someone has been a blessing to you at any time, today tell them, even if you have told them before.

- if someone has been an encouragement to you, today tell them.

- If someone's love for Christ has been an example to you, tell them.

- If what someone has said or done has been a ministered to you, tell them.

- If you have appreciation for someone and have never told them, today's the day.

- If you want to do ministry (and if you don't want to, you're probably unconverted), THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT.

- And you start TODAY !

If you can't engage lovingly your own brethren at home, you couldn't and wouldn't if you were overseas. If you don't have a heart to do it here, you won't somewhere else. We can't love those in India, China, Romania, Mexico, or Somalia, if we are not doing it right in our own church. We won't ever really love sinners if we can't even practically love the brethren we are with in our own church.

Today, at least this one Sunday, just practice, by dependence on and obedience to the Holy Spirit, BEING the minister at church today.

By the way--today especially express love, thanks, support, prayers, and commitment to all your elders. That will minister more to them than their own sermon will. Probably very few will think of doing that today, so you be the one. Set a time during the holidays and take them out for coffee or a meal and show them you love them. You minister to your ministers and it will be true ministry.

And not just for one Sunday-- its a life style that will change your life and others. But it starts with today.

I wonder what would happen in our church life if we were all living this way at church meetings every week? The preacher might not even get to preach because the Spirit has come and is Himself preaching a living epistle through the whole church.

Ready, set, go . . . . . . . . you be the minister at church today. I think the Lord Jesus will like it very much.

- Mack Tomlinson

Missouri Prison Ministry Report

In mid-November, I had the special privilege of speaking in the Bowling Green State Prison at Bowling Green, Mo. This providentially was an immense blessing and an exceptional time of among the inmates there.

There are 1900 men in this medium security prison, with the inmates from such offenses as white collar crimes of embezzlement, forgery, finance fraud and theft, to murder, sex offenses, and all kinds of felony crimes. We were with murderers, gang leaders, as well as former stock brokers who are still wealthy, but were caught in illegal activities.

Every Wednesday evening two separate chapel services are held, as there are two different inmate blocks within the prison. The first service was at 7:00 pm, with inmates from Block A attending, then the second service was at 8:00 pm for Block B inmates.

Both services were fully attended, each time filled with men, standing room only. It was also interesting to find out that the men cannot freely come to the services anytime any of them desire to, but first have to sign up once for permission and then they are on the chapel list and can go anytime. So every inmate who attends has made a personal choice and effort to be given the opportunity to be in the services.

From the very first minutes of being there, as the men began to file in, my heart was moved and my emotions stirred. Black men, hispanics, whites, old, young, middle-age, all kinds, began to come by and speak to me and welcome me. It was obvious that many of them knew Christ. I saw quite a number of men who you would never want to meet up with them in any way in their former life. But when they approached me to welcome me, it is no exaggeration to say that 95% of them evidenced true humility, graciousness, joy, kindness, and thankfulness for us coming.

When we began to sing, from the first song, the Spirit of God settled upon the time and we sensed it was a special moment. I saw men with tears running down their cheeks, singing joyfully, "How great is our God--sing with me, how great is our God--how great, how great, is our God". We sang choruses and hymns, and almost every man in the service was singing fervently and with what appeared to be reality.

I had learned that God has been at work in this prison in recent years in a significant way, with a number of inmates having been converted. Former murderers and gang leaders are now real students of the Word and lead Bible studies in the prison. It was very moving to speak to brothers in Christ there who are in prison for life and yet are free men in Christ; they know He has set them free. Some of them are even looked to by other inmates as being real pastors, though the prison or the chapel does not recognize any such designation. But it is still happening anyway.

I found my heart very moved as we went through the time of singing, and felt the Lord's presence very near; I knew He was working and I sensed He wanted to really speak to these men. As I rose to speak in each service, I felt right from the beginning that God was going to give great help in opening the Word. And He did.

Both messages were on Ps. 107: 4 - 43 -- Grace for the Mess I'm In.

There are four groups in Psalm 107 who find themselves in a mess and have no hope unless they are delivered by God.

Four points

1. Wanderers - vss. 4-9

Many are wandering in life and cannot find their way at all; but these 'wanderers' finally in desperation cried out to the Lord and he delivered them; what do wanderers need? they need to be led out of their wanderings; that is what God did for them (see. vs. 7).

2. Those in darkness - vss. 5-16

Some are not wandering, but are sitting in darkness as prisoners in affliction; in their distress, they also cry out to God and he delivers them as well; what do those sitting in darkness need? They need to be brought out of darkness, and that is what God does for them (see. vs. 14).

3. Fools- vss. 17-22

Some are only described as fools, because that is the only thing that explains their life and condition; they are suffering affliction as a result of their foolish sinful ways; they also cry out to God in their distress and he delivers them also; what do they need? Healing and powerful deliverance. (see. vs. 20)

4. Businessmen in trouble- vss. 23-30

The fourth group are not wanderers, or in darkness, or fools, but are businessmen who are in real trouble through their business. They are doing business in ships on the sea and now storms are about to wipe them out; they also in their distress cry out to the Lord and he delivers them as well; what do these men need? They need the storm calmed and brought safely to land, and that is what God does for them. (see. vs. 29-30)

Everyone who sincerely cried out to God were helped and delivered; God also tailor-made his grace to fit the need for each one--the wanderer is led, those in darkness are led out of darkness, fools are delivered, and those businessmen in the storm in their work see their storm calmed and they are brought to their desired haven. Tailor-made grace for each situation.

Then vss. 33-42 show that it is all by the sovereign, free, and unaided power of God; God does it all.

David then closes the Psalm in vs. 43 by saying that anyone who is wise ought to pay close attention to all these things and should consider that it is all an evidence of the steadfast love of God.

Words can't convey at times what impact the preached word has on those who are hearing it. It was not an ordinary time, but God was working and speaking to many. All I can say is that it is clear that God is really at work at the Bowling Green state prison; please pray for the inmates there and pray for the good chaplain who leads the work and for the dear and faithful brothers who go weekly, especially Larry Hinds from Grace Covenant Baptist Church in Hannibal, as he is one of the main leaders who goes to the prison to preach every Wednesday night.

I hope the Lord gives me the blessed privilege of going back to Bowling Green. The kingdom of God is mightily at work in that prison among the prisoners who are coming to be the Lord's free men.

- Mack Tomlinson

Friday, December 4, 2009

When I Grumble about the Weather

"The Lord has heard all your grumblings against Him!" Exodus 16:8

Does God really hear every discontented word I ever speak? Does He hear when I grumble about the hard winter, about the late spring, about the dry summer, about the wet harvest?

Does He hear when I grumble about the frosts, about the drought, about the high winds, about the storms?

Does He hear when I grumble about my circumstances, about the hardness of my situation, about my losses and disappointments?

If we could get into our heart, and keep there continually, the consciousness that God hears every word we speak, would we murmur and complain as much as we do?

We are generally careful to not speak words which would give pain to the hearts of those we love. Are we as careful not to say anything that will grieve our Heavenly Father?

"I tell you this--that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak." Matthew 12:36

"He who complains of the weather is complaining of the God who ordains the weather!" -- William Law

- J. R. Miller

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A.W. Tozer

Hailing from a tiny farming community in western Pennsylvania, A. W. Tozer's conversion was as a teenager in Akron, Ohio. While on his way home from work at a tire company, he overheard an anonymous street preacher say: "If you don't know how to be saved... just call on God." Upon returning home, he climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher’s advice.

In 1919, five years after his conversion, and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church. This began 44 years of ministry, associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), a Protestant evangelical denomination; 33 of those years were served as a pastor in a number of churches. His first pastorate was in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Tozer also served as pastor for 30 years at Southside Alliance Church, in Chicago (1928 to 1959), and the final years of his life were spent as pastor of Avenue Road Church, in Toronto, Canada. In observing contemporary Christian living, he felt that the church was on a dangerous course toward compromising with "worldly" concerns.

In 1950, Tozer received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wheaton College. It was May 1950, when Tozer was elected editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now called, Alliance Life, the official publication of the CMA. From his first editorial, dated June 3, 1950, he wrote, "It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that." In 1952, he received an LL.D. degree from Houghton College.

Among the more than 40 books that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. His books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God.

Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.

Tozer had seven children, six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God."

Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life," comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them," writes Snyder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Forgotten Revival of 1921

Douglas Brown, a Baptist minister in South London, saw conversions in his church every Sunday until he began to engage in itinerant evangelism in 1921. Within
eighteen months, he addressed over 1700 meetings, and saw revival under his evangelistic ministry. The Lord had convicted him about leaving his pastorate for mission work. Although reluctant, he finally surrendered. In his words: 'It was in February 1921, after four months of struggle, there came the crisis. Oh, how patient God is! On the Saturday night I wrote out my resignation to my church, and it was marked with my own tears' . . . .

'Then something happened. I found myself in the loving embrace of Christ for ever and ever; and all power, joy and blessedness rolled in like a deluge. How did it come? I cannot tell you. Perhaps I may when I get to heaven. All explanations are there, but the experience is here. That was two o'clock in the morning. God had waited four months for a man like me; and I said, "Lord Jesus, I know what you want; You want me to go into mission work. I love Thee more than I dislike that." I did not hear any rustling of angels' wings. I did not see any sudden light'.

Hugh Ferguson, the Baptist minister at London Road Baptist Church in Lowestoft on the East Anglia coast, had invited Douglas Brown to preach at a mission there in March. The preacher was ill when he arrived by train. However, he spoke Monday night and at meetings on Tuesday morning, afternoon and night. The power of the Holy Spirit moved among the people from the beginning.

On Wednesday night 'inquirers' packed the adjacent schoolroom for counselling and prayer. Sixty to seventy young people were converted that night, along with older people. Each night more packed the 'inquiry room' after the service. So the mission was extended indefinitely. Douglas Brown returned to his church for the weekend and continued with the mission the next Monday. By the end of March, the meetings were moved from the 700 seat Baptist Church and other nearby churches to the 1100 seat St John's Anglican Church. March saw the beginning of revival in the area.

Although Douglas Brown was the main speaker in many places, ministers of most denominations found they too were evangelizing. Revival meetings multiplied in the fishing centre of Yarmouth, as well in Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge and elsewhere. Scottish fishermen working out of Yarmouth in the winter were strongly impacted, and took revival fire to Scottish fishing towns and villages in the summer. Jock Troup, a Scottish evangelist, has visited East Anglia during the revival and ministered powerfully in Scotland.

At the same time, the spirit of God moved strongly in Ireland, especially in Ulster in 1921 through the work of W. P. Nicholson, a fiery Irish evangelist. This was at the time when Northern Ireland received parliamentary autonomy accompanied by and tension and bloodshed. J. Edwin Orr, the revival historian, was converted then, although not through W. P. Nicholson. Orr wrote:

'Nicholson's missions were the evangelistic focus of the movement: 12,409 people were counselled in the inquiry rooms; many churches gained additions, some a hundred and some doubled in membership; prayer meetings, Bible classes and missionary meetings all increased in strength and ministerial candidates doubled'.

In Great Britain the Welsh Revival of 1904-5 impacted the nation. Though not as widespread or as intense, the revivals of 1921-22 touched thousands following the devastation of World War I. Revival flamed again in 1948-49 after World War II, especially in the Scottish Hebrides.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Korean Revival 1907

Revival broke out in Korea in 1907. Presbyterian missionaries, hearing of revival in Wales and of a similar revival among Welsh Presbyterians in Assam, prayed earnestly for the same in Korea. 1500 representatives gathered for ten days at the annual New Year Bible study course, in which a spirit of prayer was brought about by the Holy Spirit. The meetings carried on day after day, with confession of sin, weeping, and trembling. The leaders allowed everyone to pray aloud simultaneously, as so many were wanting to pray, and that became a characteristic of Korean prayer meetings. The day before the study course ended, the evening meeting seemed so full of the presence of God, that many broke down, seeking the Lord, and the whole congregation wept, confessed, prayed, and praised at the same time. According to those present, what might appear to some to be chaos was actually a beautiful expression of the work of God's Spirit.

Observers were astounded. The delegates of the New Year gathering returned to their churches, taking with them this spirit of prayer which strongly impacted the churches of the nation with revival. Everywhere, conviction of sin, confession, repentance, and restitution were a common thing. By March, 2000 people had been converted, and 30,000 by the middle of 1907, by conservative estimates. Brutal persecution at the hands of the Japanese, Russian and Chinese communists saw thousands killed, but still the church grew in fervent prayer.

Prior to the Russian invasion, thousands of North Koreans gathered every morning at 5:00 am. Sometimes, 10,000 were gathered in one place for prayer each morning. Early morning daily prayer meetings became common, as did nights of prayer, especially on Friday nights, and this emphasis on prayer has continued as a feature of church life in Korea. Over a million people gather every morning at 5:00 am for prayer in the churches. Prayer and fasting is normal. Churches have over 100 prayer retreats in the hills called Prayer Mountains to which thousands go to pray. Now the city of Seoul alone has 6000 churches, many with huge numbers. Koreans have sent over 10,000 missionaries into other Asian countries.

Newly published 2 volume work on the Psalms I highly recommend

Newly published 2 volume work on the Psalms I highly recommend; very nice hard-back 2 set;

- Mack Tomlinson

New from Particular Baptist Press

by Samuel Eyles Pierce

This two-volume set on the Psalms by Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) was formerly one of the scarcest of the full-length Scripture expositions to be found by this early nineteenth-century Baptist minister and author.

When we set out to publish this work, not a single library in the U.S. or Canada listed it among their collections! And in Great Britain, only two libraries were shown to have the volumes. Over a century ago, C. H. Spurgeon in his well-known book Commenting and Commentaries (1885), stated that even in his day this set was "very scarce," while commending Pierce as one who "writes to comfort and edification" on the Psalms. We are therefore honored to make this work available once more to the present generation of Christians.

What makes Pierce’s exposition unique among others on the Psalms is that he views the whole book (not just the "Messianic" Psalms), as prophetic of Christ and His Church and expounds each chapter in accordance with this central theme. The result is a spiritually rich, Christ-centered treatise on this favorite Old Testament book.
Pierce was a Christian very much in the mold of John Bunyan, and readers are sure to profit from a careful study of these books.

The sixth exposition in our Newport Commentary Series. Bound in grade B black cloth vellum hardcover with acid-free paper. Smyth-sewn.
Volume One, 669 pages with portrait of Pierce and manuscript note by Pierce. $32.50 plus shipping.
Volume Two, 704 pages with portrait of Pierce and map of "Scenes in the Life of Samuel Eyles Pierce." $32.50 plus shipping.
$65 for the set.

Particular Baptist Press
2766 W. FR 178
Springfield, MO 65810 (417) 883-0342

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love that is Stronger than Death

There, by faith, O mourners in Zion, may you see your Saviour hanging with arms stretched out, and hear him, as it were, thus speaking to your souls:

“Behold how I have loved you! Behold my hands and my feet! Look, look into my wounded side, and see a heart flaming with love: love stronger than death. Come into my arms, O sinners, come wash your spotted souls in my heart's blood. See here is a fountain opened for all sin and all uncleanness! See, O guilty souls, how the wrath of God is now abiding upon you: come, haste away, and hide yourselves in the clefts of my wounds; for I am wounded for your transgressions; I am dying that you may live for evermore. Behold, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so am I here lifted up on a tree. See how I am become a curse for you: the chastisement of your peace is upon me. I am thus scourged, wounded, crucified, that you by my stripes may be healed. O look unto me, all ye trembling sinners, even to the ends of the earth! Look unto me by faith, and you shall be saved: for I came thus to be obedient even unto death, that I might save that which was lost."

- George Whitefield

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seeing Resistance in Your Heart Against Truth

This week I began reading again through the gospel of Matthew. Coming to Matthew 5, as I began the beatitudes, I was struck with a sense of personally needing more of the realities mentioned in the beatitudes. So I began to pray each one, wanting more poverty of spirit, needing and asking for more of a spirit of mourning over the things that ought be mourned over, asking for more meekness and spiritual hunger and thirst, desiring more mercy in my heart toward people and situations, and asking the Holy Spirit for continual increase of purity of heart in all areas, and to make me more and more of a peacemaker.

I was praying with confidence, because I know that whatever is in the Word is clearly God's will for me to have in my own life. I was drawn out by the Lord's grace to ask for more and more of these things, and then suddenly, I was stopped in my tracks as I came to verses 10-11. I found my heart hesitant and even resistant: I did not want to pray for myself about being 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake' . . . vs 11 'blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.'

I sensed my heart not wanting to ask for more persecution, or to be reviled or spoke evil about; I did not want to pray this; I immediately saw that I wanted some of the things Christ promised but not all; I wanted more spiritual desire, purity, meekness, etc, but I did not want persecution. I was faced with the fact that I wanted part of kingdom reality, but not this part of the beatitudes which would bring hardship.

I was enabled by the Holy Spirit to face the truth and, surrendering on the point, I bowed my heart, asking the Lord Jesus to make vss. 10-11 more real in my heart and life. I then felt freedom, peace, and grace to help me; I dozed off to sleep with, at least, a heart that was not resisting His truth.

- Mack Tomlinson

A Little History for You

"The memory of the just is blessed." - Prov. 10:7

Max Jukes, the 18th century atheist, lived a godless life. He married an ungodly girl, and from this union there were 310 who died as paupers, 150 were criminals, 7 murderers, 100 drunkards, and more than half of the women were prostitutes. His 540 descendants cost the state over 1 million dollars.

Then there is the record of another American couple, Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, who lived at the same time as Mr. Jukes. An investigation was made of 1,394 known descendants of the Edwards. 13 became college presidents, 65 college professors, 3 United States senators, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, 60 doctors, 75 army and navy officers, 100 preachers and missionaries, 60 prominent authors, 1 U. S. vice-president, 80 public officials in other capacities, and 295 college graduates, among whom were state governors and ministers to foreign countries. The descendants of the Edwards did not cost the state a single penny.

Indeed, the memory of the just is blessed.

Those Whose Portion is in This Life

" . . . men of the world, whose portion is in this life." - Psalm 17:14

The Christian is not of this world and his portion is not in this life. The follower of Jesus Christ has been rescued from the darkness of this unredeemed world and no longer has his or her portion primarily in this earthly existence at all.

This was not always the case. All of us at one time were people who could only be described as "men [a person] of the world", that is, a life completely controlled by and characterized by the things of this passing world. All the worldling wants is this world. All the believer wants [or should want] is not of this world.

How can we know if someone has their portion in this life? It is evident in their priorities, their life emphasis, their focus, desires, affections, and their investment of time, energy, and finances. By their fruit you shall know them.

This life- this earthly, brief, passing life. How very sad to be one whose portion is only in this life. The Christian has another portion, a larger, more abiding portion, an eternal portion, that shall not pass away. The Christian is not of this world. We are pilgrims, sojourners, travelers, on our way out of this earth, journeying toward a heavenly portion that will be unchanging and glorious. Where is your portion? Is is earthly or heavenly?

The person I truly pity is not the homeless person or the prison inmate. They often see their need and become a candidate for grace. Instead, the ones to be more pitied is the nice family who are living the normal American life style all around us. They are members of First Church in town and are respected neighbors and citizens; they go to church when their schedule allows, in between soccer and baseball seasons, trips to the lake house, or weekend get-aways to Vegas or Aspen. They have everything they need and are pursuing the rest of the stuff they want. Indeed, they have their portion in this life; they are people of the world. They are utterly and totally clueless that they are lost, without God and without hope. If you were to even hint that they had any spiritual need, they would be highly offended. If anyone talked to them about their need for the Saviour, they would get very angry. They see no need in their lives, have no place for Christ in reality, and have all their portion in this earthly life.

The good old American family. The hard-working, busy, very active American family. This describes those men of the world, whose portion is in this life.

What is the Christian's portion? It is not houses, land, possessions, position, popularity, bank account, attainments, or educational achievements. The believers' portion is Christ, heaven, an eternal kingdom, the Word of God, the church, heavenly investments, and an eternal inheritance that will never pass away.

If non-believers are described as 'men of the world, whose portion is in this life', then the believer can be described as 'men of another world, whose portion is in the future'.

What the lost man wants is all seen, temporal, here and now, and will all pass away. But what the Christian wants is all unseen, eternal, and never to be lost

'Whose portion is in this life'-- may those words never describe us.

- Mack Tomlinson

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ten Pound Christians

"So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'" Luke 19:13

We are doing business in this world for Christ. Each one of us has something He has given us--a pound which He has entrusted to us--to trade with as His agent. Our life itself, with all its powers, its endowments, opportunities, privileges, provision, blessings, and possibilities--is 'our pound'.

Our life is not our own. We are not in this world merely to have a good time for a few years. Life is a trust. We are not done with it either, when we have lived it through to its last day. We must render an account of it to Him who gave it to us. Our business is to gather gains, through our trading with our Lord's money. We are required to make the most that is possible of our life!

"The first came forward and said, 'Master, your pound has earned ten more pounds'!" Luke 19:16

We always find a few of these ten-pound Christians among the followers of Christ. They are those Christians who, from the very beginning, through divine grace, strive to reach the best things attainable in life. They are not content with being merely saved from sin's guilt, with being mere members of the church. They make their consecration to Christ complete, keeping nothing back. They set their ideal of obedience to their Lord at the mark of perfectness, and are not slack in their striving, until they reach the mark in heaven. They seek to follow Christ entirely, fully, with their whole heart. They accept every duty without regard to its cost. They seek to be like Christ, imitating Him in all the elements of His character. They give their whole energy to the work and service of Christ. They lie, like John, on the Master's bosom, and their souls are struck through with their Master's loving spirit.

These ten-pound Christians grow at last into a Christ-likeness, a spiritual beauty, and a power of usefulness and influence, by which they are set apart among Christians, shining with brighter luster than other stars in the galaxy of the church. Their one pound has made ten more pounds! Their high spiritual attainment has been won by their diligent and wise use of the one pound with which they began.

- J. R. Miller

Returning to Give Thanks

"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice, glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving thanks." Luke 17:15-16

Here's a healed leper, who in response to the Lord's mercy in his healing, did that which man's conscience, experience, reason, morality, emotion, common sense, and the good example of others all teach us is the only proper response in his situation--he returned back to give thanks.

The event in Jesus' ministry is well-known. Ten lepers approached him, not crying out, as the law would require, "Unclean! Unclean!", but rather crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

His response to their request is unlike anything most of us would say: "Go show yourself to the priests!" This command of the Lord was so that they would fulfill the Old Testament law of being declared ceremonially clean after they arrived there, since Jesus was going to heal them enroute to the temple.

All ten were healed instantly as they went in obedience to the command of Jesus. If you and I had been among the ten, and realizing we were healed, do you not think we would all turn back, being overwhelmed at what Christ had done for us? But only one did. How could the other nine go on without returning back to the source of their miracle? But only one returned to give thanks. After the Lord Jesus healed the ten, only one returned, worshipping Him and giving thanks.

What a failure of the nine and what an example of the one who returned. It is important to follow this example. Do we do the same? We certainly ought to go to the Lord to express gratitude to Him, every time we are conscious of anything He does for us. How often do we return to give thanks? There ought to be many times daily. Only 10% of the lepers returned; what percentage do we fall into?

What does this event teach us?

The Lord notices ingratitude. Jesus' first words to the one leper were, "Were there not ten? Where are the other nine?" When we are not thankful enough to turn back and give thanks after God's mercies come to us, something is wrong; how could anyone be so ungrateful for grace received? He sees and knows when we don't return back to give thanks; the Lord notices our ingratitude. Jesus said, "Where are the nine?" He was looking for them, and they were not grateful enough to return. He notices ingratitude.

Does a heart of ingratitude cause temporary amnesia? How can we forget? Because we don't have a thankful heart all the time. I wonder--when the Lord has mercy on us in situations and we don't return back to give thanks, does He say of us, 'Where are they? Look what I just did for them and they did not even stop to really give thanks?" He notices our forgetfulness regarding thankfulness.

The Lord notices gratitude. When we return to give thanks, the Lord notes it, and it blesses Him; it is a ministry to Him; that is why the Bible calls it a sacrifice: "I will render thank offerings to You." (Ps. 56:12) Hebrews also speaks of our offering the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Giving thanks is not just feeling thankful--it is opening our lips and speaking it, voicing it; GIVING thanks to God.

The Lord blesses gratitude. The Lord said to him, "Go your way--your faith has made you whole." He rewards, in different ways, those who return in gratitude to Him; John Blanchard says, "I give this as my testimony, that there is marvelous therapy in thanksgiving." He is right; it is therapeutic in every way. It not only ministers to the Lord when we return to be thankful, but it does good things to and for us. Dietrich Bonhoffer said, " It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." I believe he was right.

David was thankful

"Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name."

"Give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercies endure forever."

Paul was thankful

"I give thanks to God always . . ." - 1 Cor. 1

"I do not cease to give thanks . . ." - Eph. 1

"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father . . . " - Eph. 5

Do we return automatically with thanks to Him for what He does for us?

Gratitude springs from genuine faith; if we believe God and are trusting Him, we will be returning to thank Him continually. The faithless are ungrateful and the ungrateful are faithless, while the believing soul is thankful and the thankful soul is the trusting soul.

Every time you sense or recognize His mercies toward you, just return and give thanks. It will make your day and His as well.

- Mack Tomlinson

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our Faithfulness

"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!" Mew 25:21

No higher praise can be given to any life than to say it has been faithful. No one could ask for a nobler epitaph than the simple words, "He was faithful." This will be the commendation given in the great account, to those who have made the most of their talents: "You have been faithful with a few things!" Faithfulness should therefore be the aim in all our living.

It is not great things that God expects or requires of us--unless He has given us great gifts and opportunities. All that He requires of us, is faithfulness. He gives us certain talents, puts us in certain relations, assigns to us certain duties and then asks us to be faithful--nothing more. The man with the plain gifts and the small opportunities is not expected to do the great things which are required of the man with the brilliant talents and the large opportunities. We should get this truth fixed deeply in our mind, that God asks of us simple faithfulness.

Faithfulness is not the same in any two people. In the man who has five talents, there must be a great deal more outcome to measure up to the standard of faithfulness, than in the man who has but two talents.

Faithfulness is simply being true to God and making the most of one's life. Of those who have received little--only little is required; where much has been received--much is required. Never does God expect anything impossible or unreasonable from anyone. If we are simply faithful, we shall please God.

Jesus said of Mary, after her act of love, when men murmured at her, "She has done what she could!" Mark 14:7. What had she done? Very little, we would say. She loved Jesus truly and deeply. Then she brought a flask of precious ointment and broke the flask, pouring the sacred nard upon her Lord's tired feet--those feet which soon were to be nailed to the cross.

What good did it do? We know it wonderfully comforted the Savior's sorrowful heart. In the midst of almost universal hatred and maddening enmity, here was one who sincerely loved Him. While other hands were weaving a crown of thorns for His brow, and others still were forging cruel nails to drive through His feet--Mary's hands were pouring ointment on His head, and bathing His feet with the nard. Who will say that Mary's act did no good? It seemed a little thing, but we cannot fathom how her sweet, pure, loyal love became blessing to our suffering Savior in His bitter anguish.

- J. R. Miller

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Life Mission of the Christian

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness." 2 Corinthians 3:18

The character of every true believer is being transformed. If Christ dwells in you, He will produce in you the same kind of life which He himself lived when He was on the earth. This change does not come in its completeness or instantaneously the moment one believes in Christ. But it does begin then.

Life is large. Life's lessons are many and hard to learn! Paul was an old man when he said, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therein to be content." It had taken him many years to learn this lesson of contentment.

Likewise, it takes us years to get life's lessons learned. But nothing is clearer than the truth that a believer's life mission is to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. There is to be a transformation of character. Holiness must become the daily dress of the Christian. We are called to be saints, even in this sinful world.

"So that you may become blameless and pure children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe!" Philippians 2:15

- J. R. Miller

The School of Pain

Everyone has sorrow. Being a Christian does not exempt anyone from grief. But faith in Christ brings a transformation to sorrow. Not only are we taught to endure the sorrows that come to us patiently and submissively, but we are assured that there is a blessing in them for us, if we accept them with love and trust.

One of the deepest truths taught in the Bible is that earthly sorrow has a mission in the life of the Christian-- it is the sanctifying of life. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10-11

We dread pain! And yet the person who has not experienced pain has not yet touched the deepest and most precious meanings of life. There are things we never can learn except by being in the school of pain! There are heights of life we never can attain except in the bitterness of sorrow. There are joys we never can have until we have walked in the dark ways of sorrow. Not to have sorrow, in some form, is to miss one of life's holiest opportunities. We get our best things out of affliction!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10

- J. R. Miller

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Toward a Happier Christian Life

One of the secrets of a happy life is to live one day at a time. We really never have anything to do any day except God's will for that day. If we do that well, we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day--had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty--for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be--if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering--if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are, life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down--we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can get through with, and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste and will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

- J. R. Miller

Preachers-- Clowns or Prophets?

"The preacher is not to entertain, motivate or inspire to emotional, psychological, or professional well being. But He is to inform people of Biblical knowledge, and then bring people face to face with the Holy One of Israel, the One who is a consuming fire, the One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, the One with whom we all have to do." - Al Baker

Paul, in his last epistle, written shortly before his martyrdom in Rome, gives several exhortations to his son in the faith, Timothy; and this one in particular needs our attention. Paul’s exhortation to be sober is a present imperative, not referring to freedom from drunkenness, but it denotes clarity of mind and sound judgment, not being carried away with folly. This is something Timothy was to do continually without fail. In the next three exhortations, Paul is commanding Timothy to begin and continue to do these for the rest of his life. He is constantly to endure hardship, constantly to do the work of an evangelist (even if he does not have gifts of evangelism), and he is constantly to carry out his ministry, leaving nothing undone, lacking nothing in his service. The last three imperatives flow from the first one - be sober in all things.

Preaching is such a profound and mysterious exercise that it ought to evoke awe each time we hear it. Romans 10:13ff makes clear that a true preacher, when preaching from the Bible, no matter the level of his expertise or experience, though weak, sinful, and frail in himself, nonetheless speaks the Word of God. Paul says, '"Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?'

Paul is equating the Word of God with the words of a preacher. As the Word comes from the preacher’s mouth, his words are a savour of life to some and a savour of death to others. Some embrace it to their soul’s everlasting joy, and some reject it to their everlasting misery. Those who hear the preached Word of God are saved, built up in the faith, strengthened to endure the hardships of this world, equipped to do the work of the ministry, and prepared to meet Jesus at their deaths. Those who reject the Word, at their deaths are plunged into the lake of fire forever. No wonder Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 'Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.'

However, in light of what we commonly see in many churches today, I wonder if preachers really believe the essence of what they do. If preachers are a savour of life unto life and death unto death and if true preaching always yields one of these two responses, then how can we take our task so lightly? How can we spend so little time in preparation, so little time in prayer, so little time asking the hard questions of our own lives, which come from the text under our consideration? How can our church members take preaching so casually, give so little attention to it, pray so little for their pastors, and so easily miss the preaching of God’s Word? If this is such a vital task, then how can pastors spend so much of their time in relatively trivial issues? How can they approach their task with casualness, and sometimes even frivolity?

Surely you know of preachers who are more like clowns than prophets. A clown’s job is to entertain, to make the crowd feel good for a while, to help them forget their problems and needs. A prophet, on the other hand, is to bring people face to face with God, to show them their spiritual bankruptcy, to make known their spiritual nakedness, to reveal to them that though they think they are rich and have need of nothing, they actually are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. He then is to exalt Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of sinners, the One who died and was raised again for their justification. He is to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus. He is not to entertain, motivate or inspire to emotional, psychological, or professional well being. He is not merely to inform people of Biblical knowledge. He is to bring people face to face with the Holy One of Israel, the One who is a consuming fire, the One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, the One with whom we all have to do, the One with the two-edged sword who treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty.

Frivolity and triviality are exceedingly poor mediums for such a message. Life and death issues are not communicated well by clowns. The present worship service in some churches where the preacher enters the pulpit on a motorcycle, in a wheelbarrow, or descending from a high wire, denies the sober message of the prophet. Reducing the sermon to ten or twenty minutes devoid of Biblical exposition, failing to use the S (sin) word or the H (hell) word, failing to speak clearly about the glory of Christ and His person and work, coming across as a motivational speaker or clown, is to impugn the name of Christ and the office of preaching.

The Medium is Essential to the Message

For example, let’s say your spouse has been diagnosed with cancer and has six months to live. How would you feel if the doctor delivered the message to you in drama, in song and dance, or in a stand-up comedy routine? Surely you would be insulted? Would you not consider the doctor to be incredibly insensitive, making light of a serious and painful issue? The medium is essential to the message. Doesn’t the sober nature of the message of life and death, heaven and hell, demand a similar form of communication? Words are what the preacher has at his disposal, words under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, words made active by the Spirit who works in both the preacher and congregation. Words will do. We don’t need drama. We don’t need song and dance. We don’t need comedy. We need straightforward words, cutting like a knife into the hearts of the hearers, opening them up to the folly of their own devices, drawing them back to Jesus who alone has the power to save and keep them until that great day.

Would you pray for your pastors and elders, asking God to give a Holy Spirit anointing in their preparation and delivery of sermons? Would you not begrudge them the time they need in prayer and study, allowing God to deal with their own soul and heart? Would you release them from attempting to be something they are not? A pastor is not a clown; instead he is to be a prophet, called by God to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ for the salvation of souls and sanctification of His blood-bought people. Will you turn him loose, expecting God to speak powerfully and redemptively through him to all who hear his voice?

- Al Baker

Friday, November 13, 2009

The World in the Power of Devil

Not until recently had I ever felt the weight of the fact that those outside Christ have no defense against the devil. God can restrain the devil from doing his maximum worst. But the world cannot. They are helpless before Satan’s supernatural power. They are utterly in his sway, except for God’s restraining providence.

This should make us tremble for the hopelessness of the world and marvel at the magnitude of God’s power and grace to keep the world from being ten thousand times more violent and miserable than it is. Consider these passages to show the plight of the world:
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following . . . the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1 -2)
The World in the Providence of God
Nevertheless, the world is not nearly as vicious and wretched as it could be. Millions of unbelievers are civil and courteous and honest and kind. How can this be, if they are defenseless against the supernatural power of the most wicked being in the universe? The answer is that God restrains the evil one and uses many natural means to prompt unbelievers toward outward conformity to his laws. Here are some biblical examples.

When Abraham told king Abimelech that Sarah was his sister and not his wife, Abimelech took her into his harem, but against ordinary expectations, did not have sexual relations with her. Then he found out Sarah was Abraham’s wife and was frightened before God. But God said to him, “It was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her” (Genesis 20:6). That is a picture of God’s restraint on sin in the world.

Not only does he restrain evil, he also prompts good. For example, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation . . . :‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord . . . has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1-2). Later the people rejoice that “the Lord had . . . turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God” (Ezra 6:22). And again: “Blessed be the Lord . . . who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king” (Ezra 7:27).

So the Old Testament makes sweeping summary statements like, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1), and, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples” (Psalms 33:10).

So in the providence of God, the world does not sink into as much wickedness and misery as it would if it were given over entirely to the power of the evil one. The world does not have any power in itself to resist the devil, but God in great patience restrains the evil one and prompts much good behavior.
The Christian in the Person of Christ
The Decisive Triumph

The reason that union with Christ makes a great difference for the believer is that Christ achieved a decisive triumph over the devil at Calvary. He did not remove Satan from the world, but he disarmed him to the extent that the weapon of damnation was stripped from his hand. He cannot accuse believers of unforgiven sin. And therefore, he cannot bring them to utter ruin. He can hurt them physically and emotionally, even kill them. He can tempt them and incite others against them. But he cannot destroy them. Here is what happened at the cross:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15)
This decisive triumph is owing to “the record of debt that stood against us” being nailed to the cross. The devil made that record his chief accusation against us. Now he has no accusation that holds. He is helpless to do the one thing he wants most to do—damn us. He can’t. Christ bore our damnation. The devil is disarmed.
Another way to say it is in Hebrews 2:14-15: “[Christ became human] that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Death is still our enemy. But it is defanged. The sting is gone. The sting of death was sin. And the damning power of sin was in the demand of the law. But thanks be to Christ who satisfied the law’s demand (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

The Consequent Promise

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The Triumphant Conflict

The conflict with the devil that results from being in Christ is brutal, but the outcome is certain. He may kill us, but he cannot conquer us in the end. We rise and live forever in joy with Christ, while he is finally cast into the lake of fire. Consider two texts that show we can be killed but not utterly ruined.
They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
In this battle with the devil, therefore, we are to resist him by faith and put on the armor of God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God.Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

In conclusion, weep for the helplessness of the world the way Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s blindness: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Rejoice that the providence of God is so massively active in restraining evil and prompting so much external conformity to righteousness. Trust in the triumph of Christ at Calvary. Resist the devil in faith that the one in you is greater than he. Risk your life to spread the liberating news as far as you can.

- John Piper