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Quiet Confidence as We Wait

October 19, 2017 3 comments

quiet confidence

This passage jumped out at me in this morning’s Bible reading/prayer time. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you…

For thus says the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. And you said, “’No, for we will flee on horses’—therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Isaiah 30:15-16)

If I return (repent) when needed, and if I rest in the LORD, trusting His promises and waiting for Him to act—in His timing … then I shall be saved. I shall be delivered.

If I rely on ‘horses,’ or if I rely on my own devices, plans, or schemes … then I shall be overtaken and defeated by those very devices, plans, or schemes.

The LORD knows that I love to depend upon His promises, and believe what I believe about Him. But the waiting and quietness part gets me a lot of the time. I’m not good at it, not good at waiting and not always cooperative with Divine timing.

I know others that are good at waiting and trusting in God’s timing. I need to learn from and follow their example. Of course, the Lord Jesus was the absolute best in these matters … I marvel at His patience and strong sense of timing. He always waited for the Father.

Only by His life in me can I do the same. It is no use trying to copy Him. It cannot be done, at least not with my own strength. I need Jesus to live like Jesus! This is what I must trust Him for.

I imagine that things may be the same for at least some of you. Yes?

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Spiritual Recovery

When something bad happens, you have threeThen Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD. (Genesis 13:1-4)

Sometimes, true believers need to go into what might be called recovery mode … into a season of spiritual restoration which will lead to more fruitful days ahead. Recovery mode is usually made necessary because of our sins or errors in judgment.

When Abram finally returned to Canaan (“the South”), he was in such a condition. It had been a rough time for him in Egypt. Perhaps driven by fear, perhaps driven by feelings of necessity—Abram went into that land to make it his home. But God had not called him there, and the situation was made worse because he lacked confidence in the providence of God (and because his wife Sarai was a beautiful woman). Abram did not yet fully believe that God was in complete control of the affairs of his and his family’s lives, so he relied upon partial deception to steer clear of trouble.

Abram’s sins were ultimately exposed, and Pharaoh ordered him and his family to leave the country in shame. Therefore this man of God had nowhere to go but to the place God had initially called him. He went back to Canaan, eventually making his way to Bethel in the north, to the exact place where he had once lived.

It was at that very place that Abram called—once again—on the name of the Lord. There was the altar there, his previous place of worship. And so once more, Abram bowed in dependence upon the One who had called him.

There is a definite pattern in Abram’s story: first, he errs and gets into the kind of trouble that sin and unbelief always produce; second, he is brought face to face with his sin and faces the consequences; third, he goes back to the beginnings of his faith, to a memorable and pleasant time when it was well with his soul and spirit; and fourth, he worshiped and got his eyes fixed wholly upon God.

When we face such a recovery process, the Lord takes us through these same kinds of steps. It’s humbling to go through it, but necessary for spiritual growth. The branch that bears fruit must be pruned that it might produce even more fruit (John 15:2). The humble in God’s sight are lifted up by Him (James 4:10). We go down, He raises us up (Psalms 147:6).

What was true in Abram’s life, will also be true in ours. When God lifts us up, we will be back. When He produces more fruit, it will be evident to others. When He raises us up, we will be strong … once again … in Him.

For Further Review

1.  Can you think of a time when through your own sin or error in judgment, you found yourself in a difficult situation? How did the Lord help you come through that time?

2.  How important is it that we are honest about the paths we may have taken that got us into spiritual trouble? How does 1 John 1:8-10 help in answering this question?

3.  Proverbs 24:16a is an interesting passage and pertinent passage with regard to spiritual recovery. How does that verse encourage you toward spiritual health?

The Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Infallibility of the Bible (and why it matters)

IMG_2324-002Whenever I meet a pastor who claims to be a Christian, I want to know his answer to this question: where do you stand with regard to the Bible? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word? Do you believe He supernaturally moved upon human authors to express Himself to mankind? Are all of His words given to us through the Bible without error, as Jesus affirmed? Are those same words completely reliable and accurate in every matter they address?

If the pastor’s answer is “yes” to all of these questions, then he and I have enough common ground to begin experiencing fellowship. If not, I move on. One’s view of the Bible is a primary and essential component of our common faith.

The following article (from Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Costa Mesa, CA) explains why the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible matters. Please read it and digest its content and application.

http://defendinginerrancy.com/why-is-inerrancy-important/

After reading the article, I urge you to demand nothing less than this from your pastor or church. Ask the hard questions, ask specific questions … and if your pastor or church do not fully embrace the Bible completely as God’s Word, hold them accountable for it. The Lord will show you how to do that. Don’t let them get away with it.

Not only do pastors and churches have a responsibility before Almighty God to uphold the full inspiration of the Bible, they also have a responsibility to teach, preach, and live accordingly. We’ve heard the commercials coming from Carl’s Jr.: eat like you mean it. Now it’s time for pastors and churches (and the true believers in those churches) to live like you mean it. That is, pastors and churches have a solemn duty to teach, preach, and live like the Bible is God’s Word … fully inspired by Him, all 66 books, without error, and completly accurate in everything it asserts.

It’s time for true believers everywhere to rise up and demand nothing less from themselves and from those who are over them in the Lord. Remember, it’s not only the preachers and teachers who will answer to God one day, but also the hearers.

 

 

Our Fallen Nature

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

shifting-blameThen the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:9-13)

Not only had they attempted to cover their guilt with fig leaves … and not only did they hide from God for the first time ever, now they engaged in the timeless practice of blame shifting. (Note that even in his fallen state, man can still hear the voice of God calling to him.)

Adam was the person God addressed first, as he was the head of his home. Adam was aware of his fear, of his nakedness, and that he had hidden from God.

When asked about whether or not he’d eaten from the forbidden tree, Adam told the truth: the woman had given him the fruit of the tree. But the question was asked not about how he’d come to eat of the tree, but had he done it. It was a question intended to elicit a confession. No confession came. Instead, blame was cast in the direction of the woman. “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree.” Indirectly, he was not only blaming the woman but blaming God for giving her to him.

 The woman was next. “What is this you have done?” Like her husband, she avoided direct responsibility. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” In other words, the devil made me do it.

This unwillingness to accept and assume personal responsibility for our own actions is a symptom of our spiritual death. It is the opposite of brokenness (Psalms 51:17), confession (1 John 1:9), and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Without proper confession and repentance, we remain bound by our sin.

The new birth gives us the ability to live differently. Our old man died, our new man lives (Romans 6:6, 11). Now we can take full responsibility for our lives before our Father who loves us.

For Further Review

1.  Cite an example in your own life where you have shifted the blame for something you did (or didn’t do) that was wrong. Looking back, what have you done about it?

2.  List some areas where you have had difficulty assuming responsibility. Ask God to help you identify these areas. Then through prayer and the Word, allow Him to begin His work in you. Mark down the date of your prayer so as to track your progress.

 3.  Reconsider Romans 6:6, 11. How does the truth of these verses fight against the natural tendencies we inherited from Adam and Eve?

One Last Revival?

May 21, 2012 2 comments

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I’ve been thinking about and praying for a revival. For years. Specifically, and more so even lately, I’ve been praying and hoping for a Josiah revival.

What’s a Josiah revival? It’s a last ditch kind of revival … one more mighty move of God before judgment falls. And fall it most certainly will.

Consider the sin of Sodom. Usually, we equate the sin of Sodom with overt and aggressive homosexuality. Yet those were only the final symptoms of their sin. God Himself describes what they in Sodom had done:

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. {50} And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

First, Sodom was proud. Pride is a reflection of self-sufficiency, that somehow we have accomplished or gained what we have on our own. President Abraham Lincoln ascribed this meaning of pride to the United States, mired at the time in a brutal Civil War which would ultimately take the lives of as many as 750,000 Americans. In his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, Lincoln wrote of the untold blessings that our nation had received. After citing what he called the choicest bounties of heaven, he mourned:

“…We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” 

That is precisely what Sodom had done. They were a successful city-state, rich with agricultural and commercial success, wealthy and prosperous. But they thought they’d done these things themselves. They were proud, fat, and with much discretionary time on their hands. Their work week was short, they were materially satisfied, and so they turned their attention to pleasure and the lusts of the flesh. And because the flesh can never be satisfied, they devolved further and further from Divinely ordained sexual relations between a husband and wife. They ended up with total sexual confusion and perverted expression of their sexuality.

We (in the United States) are much like Sodom. Our lust and will to live without truth and accountability to the God who made us has led us to unimaginable national sin.

At the top of the list of our national sins has been the holocaust of abortion. This holocaust has claimed the lives of at least 54,000,000 innocents since 1973. How large is this number? It represents 1,367 millionbabies per year that have died. That number is far greater than ALL casualties of war from every war in which the U.S. has been involved since 1775.

President Lincoln believed that the Civil War was God’s just judgment for the sin of slavery. A former professor of mine once queried our class, “If the blood atonement for the sin of slavery was the Civil War, what do you suppose will be the blood atonement for the sin of abortion?”

It is evident to many that judgment is on its way (remember the Billy Graham quote, “If God does not judge America, He owes an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah”?).

But … perhaps … there can be one last mighty move of God prior to that judgment falling. A Josiah revival.

Josiah was the grandson of Manasseh, and the son of Amon. Manasseh reigned in Judah for fifty-five years, and Amon for two. The spiritual wickedness that accumulated in those years is unimaginable. Even though Manasseh repented and was forgiven, the damage had already been done. The LORD spoke through Jeremiah to say that judgment was inevitable, and that it would be horrible.

Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. {2} And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, Thus says the LORD: “Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”’ {3} And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the LORD: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. {4} I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.”

After Manasseh and Amon, Josiah became king when only 8 years old. Somehow, by the sovereign grace of God, he was cut out of a completely different bolt of cloth. At age 16 he began to seek the God of his father David, and at age 20 he began to aggressively purge idolatry from Judah and Jerusalem. And at 26 he was exposed to the Word of God through Hilkiah the priest and Shaphan the scribe.

What happened then was amazing and incredible. Covenants were made, purging and repentance continued, Passover was observed, the Word of God spread. All told, Judah experienced the effect of Josiah’s reign from the time he was twenty to the time he died at thirty-nine.  The land which had been so full of sins and idolatry of every kind was now a nation under God. Such a drastic change could only be produced by God Himself, using His Word and anointed leadership.

After Josiah died, they lived once again with no fear of the LORD. It was only a matter of time before the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity.

A Josiah revival.

One last time when someone … when many some ones … begin to seek God with all their hearts.

One last time when idolatry and sin is purged.

One last time when the Word of God is discovered, preached, taught, believed, and obeyed.

One last time before the inevitable judgment of God falls upon America.

Can we pray for revival? Should we hope for revival? Is it possible that one last Josiah revival will come?

Series On Revival

March 29, 2009 1 comment

revivalThis morning I spoke for the second consecutive Sunday at Cornerstone Ministries of Napa, where my friend Bill Walden is Senior Pastor.

Pastor Bill asked me to speak on the subject of Revival, and so I did just that. I sensed the Lord wanting me to go for it, and could feel His hand upon me as I pondered the subject.

Here are the links to the audio versions of both studies, as well as to the notes that go with them. My wife insisted that I publish these studies, as she was very excited about both the content and delivery.

So to God be the glory. I have been praying for revival myself for many years, on many levels. I hope the messages stir and encourage you.

Audio Messages

http://www.billholdridge.com/Topicals/Revival – Part 1.mp3

http://www.billholdridge.com/Topicals/Revival – Part 2.mp3

Notes

http://www.billholdridge.com/Topicals/Revival (Part One).doc

http://www.billholdridge.com/Topicals/Revival (Part Two).doc