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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Taming Of Anger

"It is significant that when our Lord describes the stream of iniquity as it flows out of the heart He begins with the thoughts.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies... Matthew 15:19.  It is doubtful whether any sin is ever committed until it first incubates in the thoughts long enough to stir the feelings and predispose the will toward it favorably.  Even the sudden flash of anger, which of all sins would appear on the surface to have the lowest mental content, is anything but a sudden eruption of the emotions.  The quick-tempered man is one who habitually broods over wrongs and insults and thus conditions himself for the sudden fit of temper that seems to have no mental origin.  The heart that has had the benefit of broad, sane thinking on moral questions, especially long meditation upon mans sin, Gods mercy and the goodness of Christ in dying for His enemies, is not conditioned to blow up when occasion arises.  The worst reaction to an affront or an injustice will be annoyance or mild irritation, never a burst of sinful anger."  A. W. Tozer

Monday, September 17, 2012

From Prison To Praise

Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise thy name:  Psalms 142:7

Who among us has not, at least for a time, found our soul in prison, cordoned off from praise.  The steely bars of spiritual captivity with their cold hard reality making spiritual blessings seem very distant.  The separation from praise is a self perpetuating dungeon that robs of us joy and peace.  Our soul shivers in the darkness, cowers in the corners, and satisfies itself with a meager menu that barely sustains life.  The feeling of solitary confinement becomes overwhelming.

The depression dirge becomes our lamentation:

Will the Lord cast off for ever?
      and will he be favorable no more?
Is his mercy clean gone for ever?
      doth his promise fail for evermore?
Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
      hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?
            Psalms 77:7-9

That dreadful prison that keeps us from praise!  But this is not a prison of brick and mortar.  It is a prison constructed of things much more sinister.

Secret Sin, etc....

We watch the walls go up around us and bemoan the separation from praise in a prison of our own making!

In such an hour as this may our prayer be that of the Psalmist:  Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise thy name.  Having prayed the prayer let us begin the demolition of the prison we erected around our soul and even then begin the process of praise as we prostrate the prison walls!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forgetting God

Israel had a very tempestuous existence in the wilderness.  It was a hard existence.  It was a wandering existence.  It was longer than it needed to be.  It was more discouraging that it should have been.  It was the occasion of more temptation than they should have had.  Such is the nature of wilderness wanderings, physically and spiritually.

There are a number of reasons that could be provided as a reason for their wanderings.  Of course unbelief is immediately recognized as a primary cause of their wilderness experience.  They simply did not believe God and it cost them dearly!  I wonder, though if there may be something even more fundamental than unbelief?  Maybe forgetfulness.

Psalms 106:21 informs us that, They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt.

It would seem if one forgets God it becomes increasingly difficult to believe God.    Being preoccupied with our problems produces a subtle shift in our perspective.  God is more easily forgotten in the context of pondering our problems.

How much do we forget of what God has done for us?  It is interesting that God is here referred to as their saviour.  Indeed he was.  He delivered them from Egyptian bondage!  They had forgotten.  It seems fitting to make a stirring application.  If we are not careful we can make a habit of forgetting the wrong things and remembering the wrong things and before you know it we will just be all wrong, wandering in a wilderness that is harsh, unforgiving, discouraging, and be there longer than we need to facing temptations we should have never had to face.

God did great things in Egypt and they had forgotten.  I know we like to think we would not have forgotten.  But name ten great things God has done for you personally.  Not ten great things God has done for other people at other times.  Ten great things God has done for you!  When our focus is on our problems we will find it hard to remember the great things God our saviour has done for us.

When we forget it does not make God weaker it makes us weaker!  Just because we forget doesn't mean it didn't happen it just means we will be more likely to suffer the discouragements of the wilderness instead of enjoying the bounty of the Promised Land.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Can God?

Psalm 78:19 - Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

This verse is at the beginning of a lengthy Psalm relating Israel's notorious history from Egypt to their dividing of the Promised Land.  The sad hallmark of this time period is that often they did not deal truly with God.  They were a fickle, insincere people.

There are many ways a man can speak against God.  Taking God's name in vain which is the most recognizable form of speaking against God is commonly accepted and passed by without hardly a thought.  It should come as no surprise that more subtle ways of speaking against God are not even recognized as such.  This is why the verse before us is so compelling.  It reminds us of how susceptible we are to speaking against God.

If we are not careful our fallen minds will create a dichotomy where one does not exist.  Two things are equated that are worthy of more than just a passing notice. ". . . . they spake against God: they said, Can God . . . ."  Conclusion:  asking can God is the same as speaking against God.

This subtle truth demands sober reflection.  It is important to note they were not doubting a promise but questioning his person!  It is not, "Yea, they spake against God; they said, Will God".  No, they did not say "will God" but "can God".  Those two words, "can God" does not call into question any particular promise but rather the promise maker.

The reality is that if we can settle the question of, "can God" believing the particular promises takes care of itself.  The question is easy to answer, just reverse the words.  Can God?  God can!

What is going on in your life right now that is tempting you to say, "Can God?"  Remember the order in which we place these two words determines whether we are speaking against God or for God.  Can God?  God can!