When you start out on a journey you are wise to have prepared for the trip. Plan the journey, store up provisions, check out your resources. The interesting fact about the Christian life, however, is that from the moment when you are saved, you are already on a journey that you haven’t been able to prepare for.
Indeed, before you began, you had no idea you would even take the trip.
So, that means you have a lot of catching up to do. What, ideally, you would have done before setting out, you must now do while already on the road. In some ways that makes it harder; in others easier. Either way, it’s the reality that you must deal with.
Job, we are told, was “perfect” (v.1).
“That troubles me.”
“I thought because we all still sin, no one is perfect.”
“Well, then, how could he be ‘perfect?’ Isn’t it necessary to be sinless to be perfect?”
Yes, and no.
“Not another equivocal answer!”
No. Not equivocal—simply making it clear that the word ‘perfect’ needs to be understood properly.
“What’s confusing about it?”
Sorry to have to tell you—your trusted friend the KJV is the problem again.
“Oh! Please explain.”
Gladly. The Hebrew word tam, translated “perfect” in the KJV doesn’t mean ‘without sin.’
In the world that God created, the things one does either go His way—i.e., fit into the way He constructed it—or they get him into trouble. The “boomerang” parables (as I like to call them) are an instance of this. For example, speaking of the wicked “schemes’ cooked up by those who “hate knowledge and choose not to fear God,” the writer says, “they will eat the fruit of their way.” He goes on to say, “they will be glutted with their own schemes.” In other words, the evil they plan to do to others, (in one way or another) will providentially find its way back to their own doorsteps (see Proverbs 1:29-31 HCSB).
There is, in this observation, both a warning and a promise. The evil doer can expect, at length, to have to eat the sour fruit that he cultivated to poison the lives of others. He will find that the evil schemes that he has been devising, in time, will pile up in his own house, applicable to no one but himself.
Does this invariably happen? Of course not. God has many ways of dealing with those who seek to do harm to others. But that He often sends the boomerang right back to its source to strike the one who threw it is one of those ways. Ever been smacked in the head with your own weapon? Well, if so, it may be that God was turning your evil into a boomerang.
There is a new year on its way!
LOOK OUT—IT COULD BE A ROUGH ONE!
I can’t say that, because I’m not God—only He knows what it will be like. But things don’t seem to be getting any better—which (in my book) means they’re getting worse. They don’t stay the same. I wish I had another forecast, but the weather looks stormy.
So, if that forecast is anywhere near the truth, then what will you do as a Christian? One: you will pray. For grace to enable you to do the right things in relationship to it. It’s easy to get off track when the winds are swift and contrary to the way you should travel.
Two: You will work like you never have before to stay on top of things, rather than letting them pile up on top of you! You need to be able to continue to give generously to your church, and to be able to meet all special needs as well. That won’t come if you sit around bemoaning the circumstances.
So, heed the weather report—for what it’s worth. And, of course, in answer to your prayers, God may be pleased to do well in spite of it.
Whatever the weather—let’s endure it in such a way that Christ is honored—not by our sitting around waiting for Him to act, but by obedience to His Word.
“Prayer changes things”
You’ve seen those words on billboards, had people repeat them to you, doubtless.
Well, of course prayer changes nothing—it’s God, Who answers prayer, Who changes things. Prayer is no talisman!
But that’s not what I want to talk about.
There are people—many of whom would agree with the sentiments above, who, nevertheless, have quite a wrong view of prayer. They think that’s all that matters in order to get in touch and stay in touch with God.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
“I’ve got to go to the grocery store.”
It seemed like a simple, routine thing at the time these words were spoken. But then it all changed!
A truck, carrying gravel, ran a red light and plowed into the rear end of her car. The grocery store turned out to be the ICU at the local hospital.
How quickly everything in life can change! Plans, purposes, intentions—all down the drain! Nothing left of any of them. Life will never be the same again.
In God’s providence—that is in His perfect will for His children—even occurrences like these have a good and eternal purpose. We may see it in part here; probably not with any amount of specificity until we look back from a heavenly perspective some day.
There are those who are dependable—i.e., to say, you can depend on them not to be dependable. You can count on them attending church—occasionally—or offering the special help needed for which they volunteered!
One wonders what motivates—or, rather, what fails to motivate—them so regularly that you can almost depend on them to be undependable in whatever they promise to do. And, often, it isn’t because at the time when they volunteered they had no intention of doing it; it’s likely that they had every intention of doing what they said they would. Depend on them to have good intentions.
Then why don’t they? Are they simply creatures of habit—bad habits? Probably, in many (possibly most) instances. They learned these early. It was always easier at the time to say, “Oh well, it’s raining; probably best to stay home—in fact it’s a great day for seeping in!” So they do—quite dependably so!
Are you dependable? That is to say, can others in the church depend upon you to not keep your word to them when you promise to do something?
If anyone does, Paul should know!
About “inner strength.
Well, let him tell you himself:
That in keeping with His glorious riches, by His Spirit, He may make it possible for you to be strengthened with power in the inner person. Eph. 3:16
“Oh good! You just gave me a new entry for my 3:16 list of verses!”
Glad for that, but did you get what He was saying?
“Well, not exactly.”
Paul had mentioned the afflictions that he suffered for Christ (v. 13). Amazing how he kept going in spite of them!
Is a Christian man schizophrenic? By the sort of radio preaching I heard tonight you’d have to believe so. The “preacher” taught that believers have two natures. Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to this heretical view of man, one nature is all good, the other all bad. The believer throws the bone and the good dog fights the bad dog to see who gets it!
It is faith that rescues us from sin and its consequences—misery here and eternal punishment in hell. Of course, it isn’t faith that actually saves; faith is the means by which the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross is mediated to the one who is saved (“rescued”). One is saved by grace through faith.
Faith isn’t faith in the abstract. It is dependence upon the Gospel. It means so believing in the truth that Jesus Christ died in his place, for his sins, that one stakes his eternal welfare upon that Gospel. If Jesus could fail (which He won’t), he’d go down with Him!
So, saving faith is faith in the good news that sinners need to hear. The Gospel is good news to be believed; not good works to be accomplished. All that needed to be done to save His own, Jesus has already done. Nothing need be, or could be, added to it. The person who is eligible to be saved is the one who recognizes that he isn’t eligible—on his own. Only Christ can make him so. His part is to admit his sin, his inability to rescue himself from sin and hell, and trust in what Jesus has already accomplished.