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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hannah's Honor

Larry Ortiz - registry.Life often times presses upon us.  We find ourselves carrying burdens, some for a day or so others seem to always be there lurking under the surface seeking to rob us of joy and peace.  It bubbles up and we have a bad day or week.  The burdens capture our attention and they grow in size and weight until they have reached such huge proportions that faith fails and even God seems inadequate for the scope of our burden.  It is important to note that just because faith fails this does not mean that God has failed.  A weak or shrinking faith does not indicate a weak or shrinking God!

God is ever the same.  His power is never diminished.  His ability is never compromised.  His control is never relinquished.  This is why we are exhorted in 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  This is a learning process.  We learn over the course of our Christian life how to do this.  It was Paul who reminded us that "I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content".  He learned it and we can too.  It is a matter of learning to cast care upon a God who cares!

Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 sets the example.

Vs: 2 - Hannah had no children
Vs: 5 - Hannah was loved by her husband
Vs: 5 - The LORD had shut up Hannah's womb
Vs: 6 - Hannah was provoked by an adversary, which was her husband's other wife who had borne children
Vs: 6 - Hannah was caused to fret because of her situation
Vs: 7 - Hannah was provoked to such a degree that she wept and did not eat
Vs: 8 - Hannah had become inconsolable
Vs: 10 - Hannah was in bitterness of soul, she prayed, and she wept sore
Vs: 15 - Hannah was sorrowful of spirit and poured out her soul before the LORD
Vs: 16 - Hannah was a woman full of grief and had a complaint
Vs: 17 - The man of God told Hannah to go in peace and the LORD grant your petition.

Then a remarkable thing is recorded in the next verse (18).  And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.  So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

Having encouragement from the man of God that the LORD would answer her petition her outlook changed completely.  Her problem was not gone, but her faith had been restored.  Her burden was just as real, but someone else was now bearing it.  This resulted in her going her way, eating (appetite restored), and her countenance being no more sad.

This is the honor of Hannah!  She teaches us what it means to cast all our care upon him.  We learn from her example what it looks like when we successfully take our burden to the LORD and leave it there.

Is your heart heavy today?  Pour out your heart before Him.  Give the burden, every last ounce of it, to Him.  He is able!

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Management Of Disappointment

Cheat Sheet: Hints and Tips For Google WaveDisappointment must be properly managed.  When we consider the fact that disobedience in the culmination of improperly managed disappointment it becomes critical that we learn to effectively deal with disappointment.  Disappointment that is allowed to grow to unbelief is harder to get a grip on.  By its very nature it is pervasive. Every thought is held captive by the spirit of unbelief.  Deliverance at this point is possible but considerably more difficult to achieve.

I have spoken to far too many Christians who are beyond reasoning. Why? Their entire soul has been tainted by unbelief.  Often at the point of unbelief it  must be allowed to run the course to disobedience and ultimately chastisement and then hopefully repentance.  Discouragement is more easily addressed than unbelief, but not as easily addressed as disappointment.

The discouraged can still be reasoned with.  Their soul is hindered but it is not yet hardened.  It is at this stage where we can still ask ourselves the pertinent question of the Psalmist, “Why art thou cast down, O, My soul.”  It is at this stage where we can still command ourselves with the exhortation of the Psalmist, “Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”

Disappointment is the place to deal with it.  It is the most manageable stage because it is the least invasive stage.  At this point is it about temporal things.  Circumstances or people.  It has not yet become a fixture of the soul.  Expectations have been unmet in this world but God is still good and worthy to be believed.  Disappointment has to do with my view of the world and the events that unfold here.  Discouragement and unbelief are attributes that characterize the soul.  It is always best and easiest to guard my outlook than to have to cleanse my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us of all the all important point; Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

It is important to balance our expectations with God’s sovereignty.  It begins with recognizing that God has a will.

Matthew 6:10 - Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
James 4:15 - For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

We must condition ourselves to appreciate the will of God.

Psalms 103:19 - The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Psalms 115:3 - But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

We then teach ourselves the will of God.

Romans 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God is not about making me happy and successful but Christ like.

Ephesians. 1:11,12 - In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Revelation 4:11 - Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Proverbs 16:4 - The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Romans 11:36 - For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

We then prepare our hearts to accept the will of God.

Luke 22:42 - Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Proverbs 3:5,6 - Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Jeremiah. 18:1-6 – Clay in the hand of the potter.

We must also learn to view our expectations in the context of God’s faithfulness.  God is faithful to us in the context of his sovereign will.  God does not alter his will because the execution of it will be unpleasant for us.  Consequently God’s faithfulness should not be judged on the basis of our comfort level.  Just because our expectations go unmet does not mean God is not faithful.  He is not obligated to our expectations but to his will.

Our tendency is to look at the good times and say God has been faithful, and to stand silent in the face of unfulfilled expectations and disappointments.

Lamentations is a record of Jeremiah's distress at the destruction of Jerusalem.  He records with great melancholy the fate that fell the beloved city.  Having outlined the destruction and bemoaned it he comes to Lamentations 3:21-26 where we find these words.  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

In the midst of such great destruction and personal disappointment God was still good, faithful, merciful, therefore Jeremiah had hope.  Hope in the midst of very disappointing circumstances.
There are other verses that remind us that God is faithful even in times of trouble.

Psalms 119:75 - I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Genesis 18:25 - That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Lastly we must weigh our expectations in the scales of God’s goodness.  We must free ourselves of the idea that things that make us feel bad are not good.  If it were not ultimately for our good and the fulfillment of his will in our lives he would have intervened on our behalf.  There will be many things that do not feel good that are ultimately for our good.

This is the essence of Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Again consider the example of Israel.

Deuteronomy 8:2,3 – And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

The Bible says God suffered or allowed the children of Israel to hunger.  We believe we have a right to never hunger.  We cannot allow our disappointments to cause us to doubt God’s goodness.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Danger Of Disappointment

Dangers%20of%20Price%20Controls.jpgThe danger of disappointment is that it mutates into discouragement.

Discouragement is defined as to extinguish the courage, to dishearten, deprive of confidence.  Failure to address disappointment eventually lead to a deprivation of confidence, to have courage extinguished.

There are a couple of different ways this digression develops.  When expectations are disappointed in a big way, or when expectations are disappointed in a consistent way.

The temporal has now begun to affect us at a spiritual level.  What was someone else’s failure is now setting the stage for failure in our own lives.  Circumstances that were beyond our control are now exerting influence where we do have control.  Our disappointment with circumstances or men is now being used of Satan to create discouragement which is a spiritual issue at its root.

Disappointment is relatively harmless but it gives birth to a spiritual cancer, discouragement.

Numbers 21:4 - And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

I would venture to say that they were disappointed about the way. It proved to be more difficult than what they had expected.  Their expectations were not realized, thus they were disappointed and ultimately discouraged.  We should be careful about the kind of expectations that we have concerning our way.  It is not that we need be pessimistic, not at all.  But we need to be trusting that God is leading us in the way that is best for us.

But it gets worse for if unresolved discouragement mutates into unbelief.  We lose the courage needed to believe God.  When we fail to believe God we are guilty of unbelief.  As bad as discouragement is, unbelief is worse.  It affords the opportunity for carnal, fleshly, worldly rationalization.  When disappointment is stretched into unbelief we are facing a crisis in our lives.  Sometimes we may know it.  Other times we may not, such is the nature and power of discouragement rooted in disappointment.

There is a striking example of this transition from disappointment to discouragement to unbelief in the book of Numbers.

In Numbers 13:1 Moses is instructed to send men to examine the land which the Lord had given them.

Numbers 13:23-27 records the fact that the land was just as God promised it would be.

Numbers 13:28-14:11 introduces the issues of disappointment, discouragement and unbelief.

Verses 28,29 describe the source of their disappointment.  Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.  The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.

Nevertheless”, this is a term denoting their disappointment.  They are about to spread it among the people.

In verse 30 there is an attempt at answering the disappointment.  And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

Then in verses 31-33 their disappointment is transformed into discouragement.  But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.  And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

They intend to spread that among the people as well.

Moving into the next chapter we see the disappointment and discouragement of the people.  It is recorded in the first four verses. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.  And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!  And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

In verses 6-10 Joshua and Caleb make an attempt at restoring faith.  And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:  And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.  If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.  But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

Then notice verse 11 – And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

How long will it be ere they believe me?  They were guilty of unbelief.  It was unbelief that migrated out of the dark regions of discouragement, which was birthed by the disappointment of 10 men.

Unfortunately the downward spiral does not end there for unbelief mutates into disobedience.  If we do not believe God we will not obey God.

Hebrews 11:6 reminds us clearly of the importance of believing God.  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

When we lapse into unbelief a lot of crazy things can start happening.  Hebrews even gives insight into this reality.  Hebews 3:12,13 – Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  How many have departed as a result of what began as simply disappointment?

Once we have lapsed into unbelief we then become subject to a wide range of the devil’s devices.

Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We lose the ability to discern the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.  Thus we become destined to live a life that is less than what he desired for us.  All because of disappointment about some circumstance we found ourselves in or the actions of someone else.  The disappointment was nurtured and it turned into discouragement, and then produced unbelief, which inevitably lead to disobedience.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Modern Christian (Baptist) Pulpit

The following is from J. C. Ryle:

"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  Luke 3:7,8

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers like John the Baptist.

A morbid dislike to strong language;
An excessive fear of giving offence;
A constant flinching from directness and plain speaking--
are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

Uncharitable language is no doubt always to be deprecated. But there is no 'charity' in flattering unconverted people--by abstaining from any mention of their vices, or in applying smooth names to their damnable sins!

There are two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.  Luke 6:26

In the other it is written, For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10"