Today’s post is difficult for me. I know the messages are to me, but the verses seem so heavy, as I work through them. I feel myself brought low, then lifted up. The bringing low seems to me to be very direct, and very obvious. The lifting seems more obscure, less direct. Since my intent here is to encourage my Christian brothers/sisters, not to condemn or burden them, I am struggling with this study. I KNOW it is for me, and I am encouraged as I have worked through this. I want everyone who reads this to be lifted and encouraged…but it just occurred to me: I will put this in God’s hands, and ask His message to be conveyed.
Sunday morning, part of the pastor’s message hit me pretty hard. Hebrews 12:5, 6 I know I am being chastened, and I know it is mostly for repeat offenses. That’s what hit me. Proverb 26:11 The pastor suggested that if we know we are repeating our sin, and do not feel a heaviness or a burden on our hearts, if things are going well, then we need to ask ourselves if we truly are His child. Shame – knowing that I have repeated my offenses, and that God knows I have – Satan uses this shame to discourage me from going before God for restoration again. Revelation 12:10
Just an aside – Christ, our Lord, the only sinless one, is fit to accuse any and all of us…yet he doesn’t. He forgives us, and calls us to His loving embrace. Satan, on the other hand, filled with evil of every kind, possessing within his being, in abundance, everything he hurls in accusation at any of us; Satan, on the other hand, never ceases to accuse. Remember, when Satan accuses, he tries to tell us we aren’t worthy of God’s love, that we cannot be cleansed, that we are too dirty to come before God – when Satan accuses, he is accusing as the great hypocrite and the great liar. When God chastises, He calls us to himself for restoration. He calls as the Great Redeemer, the Great Lover of our souls, as love itself. The voice is different, the response in our hearts is different. If we want to run to God, then it is His voice calling us. If we want to hide from Him, it is Satan beguiling us. John 6:66-68
Driving home after church, in a somber mood, I turned to a Christian radio station for encouragement. Billy Graham was preaching the parable of the sower, and he tossed in this quote from Fred A. Allen, which was repeated several times in the “teasers” leading up to that point in his teaching: “Most of us spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.” I felt convicted again. Then, in my study later in the day, after reading a couple of chapters in Exodus, I opened my Bible randomly to…Luke 8:4-15. As Bill Engvall says, “Here’s your sign”.
John MacArthur in my study Bible references Isaiah 6:1-8 from the parable of the sower. I hope you all understand why this passage lifted my heart. I was deeply convicted by my pastor’s words, followed by Billy Graham, particularly the Fred Allen quote, reinforced by my Bible taking me to Luke 8, finally being led to Isaiah 6. Isaiah 6 is not a pleasant chapter! It does begin by praising the greatness and glory of the Lord, but it speaks mostly of destruction and catastrophes and desolation. Jeremiah is confessing his sin – “woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips…” But in the depths of Jeremiah’s despair, the angel comes to him with a burning coal from the altar (Calvary?). He cleanses Jeremiah’s lips with the coal, and God speaks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Jeremiah’s response, “Here am I, send me.” Here I am, ruined, sinful man – but for the glory of God, send the forgiven, redeemed me.
After Jeremiah, my attention was drawn in succession to John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
James 5:16 – helping one another by confession, restoration and the prayers of righteous men.
And the great uplifter! John 15:15 We are no longer slaves to sin. Bound to return again and again. And Jesus, the Son of the Living God, calls us “friend”! He saw us as slaves. He knew our condition – but He brought us out of that and we are friends of God, and heirs with Christ!
For some reason, Ecclesiastes 8:12 shows up. Is it because I see the sinful, wicked man prosper as I am chastised? “…still I know that it will be well for those who fear God…” or Romans 8:28 “And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Then to 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Death is swallowed up in victory! Death, where is YOUR victory? Oh Death, where is your sting? Triumphant words! Then Paul says, the sting of death is sin. Sin and death are conquered, swallowed up in victory! Oh glorious day! Oh glorious day!
Then finally, I’m sent out with Ephesians 6:10-18. The armor of God, and the exhortation to pray always..
I hope you are encouraged, I pray that your spirit rallies to Christ’s call to fight! There’s a war raging, my brothers. Be watchful in the Spirit, be brave in Christ, be strong in the strength of Almighty God!