The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Proverbs 18:10
The Christian life is a simple, yet multifaceted entity which builds upon the relationship and faith in Jesus Christ. It is not something produced by reaching certain goals and milestones. This life is not established by fitting into a particular mould set by a hierarchy of other people or organisation. It is a life based upon an intimate relationship with the One Who willingly laid down His life so millions upon millions could live. Now, before the worldâs mind distracts you from todayâs purpose and Godâs plan, letâs evaluate the word âintimateâ. By primary definition it means closely acquainted; familiar or involving a very close connection. This is the type of relationship we are to have with the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes, the reason we lack intimacy with God is a result of hiding. For whatever reason, we may be hiding because of sin in our life, bitterness we are harbouring, or simple hardness of heart by refusing to submit and humbling ourselves. Often, we go into hiding because we have created a separation which sometimes is allowed by something we are experiencing. This distance is enabled, because, whether we realise it or not, we are questioning Godâs love, goodness, or dependability with our life, especially our emotions.Â
There is a void, an emptiness within us when we are not close to the Lord. There is this desire, but because of outside forces (i.e. our choices) a barrenness remains. It is a hole only to be filled through an intimate relationship with the Saviour. Quite often we lose or lack this intimacy because we are running away from the Lord attempting to fill the void in our life with other things or other people. Before, you begin to think this is an oddity to experience, rest assured, everyone of us have been guilty of this very thing in our life. We have lost this communion and sought itâs replacement, through other avenues either willingly or ignorantly. Believe it or not, many will seek to fill this void without understanding what is missing. This is why we need continual, teaching and preaching of the word of God, to help us grow in the knowledge of the Holy Scripture, thus making us aware of situations we do not necessarily understand at the time.
As a Christian, there is an inner desire to draw close to Christ, yet too often believers are seeking and chasing to fill the void with activities, busyness, people, relationships even ministry. I have seen it so many times, people get involved in outreach programs, labouring diligently and for the most part doing a great job. Yet, when the results aren't what was expected they are shaken, depressed and typically forsake the outreach ministry all together. Just imagine, distributing 500 invitations and gospel tracts during outreach on Thursday or Friday and no one from your map shows up on Sunday. Pretty disappointing. Well, the fact of the matter is, that is what happens most of the time. The statistical data on leaflet distribution is 1 per 1000 will respond in some manner, which does not mean attendance. This translates into, for 10,000 leaflets distributed, 10 will have some type of response. Now just imagine there is an emptiness inside, something greatly missing in your life and you are filling this void with the distributing of tracts and leaflets. When the results are not what one expected or desired emotionally speaking we are sacked. I recently saw a T-shirt a friend of mine was wearing, it read âI seldom workout, but when I do I expect immediate resultsâ. Now we realise this is a joke, a comedic shirt which in reality bears witness to the truth of many peopleâs lives. If we were honest with ourselves, most of us expect immediate results, the reason we do is at the basis of our labour, which is the filling of a desolate place within our soul. People will do it with friends, church, hobbies and activities. When, not if, but when, the fulfilment is lacking, the object of attack is the very thing we were doing to comfort our soul (a great reason why people become church hoppers and ministry stoppers).
So what is the answer? There is only One person Who can fill this place, only One Who can provide the needed comfort and consolation every soul longs for, the Lord. Solomon said, ââŚthe LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.â Safety will only be found in the intimacy of our relationship with the Saviour.
When Paul, who was more faithful to the Lord than any other Christian, was forsaken by everyone, he wrote by inspiration: âAt my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.â (II Timothy 4:16-17). He understood the necessity of intimacy with the Lord, he also understood the failures of man, therefore, he did not place his trust and dependency in his own labours or in the relationship with others, but rather in the Lord Jesus Christ, who when no man stood with him, the Lord was by his side. As the Scripture is written, the Lord says ââŚI will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.â (Hebrews 13.5).
When we have an intimate relationship with the Lord, when we draw close to Him and He with us, our satisfaction will not rest in the outcome of our labours, frequency of friendships or even the multitude of activities on our daily schedule. However, there will be a sweetness found in all of these things we do and have, because our joy is depended upon them, but rather as we are stabled by communion in Christ, as we labour together in the gospel, there is a peace knowing we are doing so for the right reason. âŚthe LORD is a strong towerâŚ
Dr. B. J. Stagner Jr.
Pastor Stagner has preached in many different countries and continues to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the manner that it is intended from the...
This is part 3 of a multi-issue devotion concerning the topic of the Servant of the Lord. It is intended to encourage all believers. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, II Timothy 2:24
The servant of the Lord is given the instructions to be gentle unto all men. What is interesting about this statement, is it did not come with a disclaimer dictating who the servant of the Lord is to be gentle towards. There are no prerequisites stipulating who deserves or does not deserve gentleness from such servant. We are simply told, âunto all men.â Needless to say, there are some people and groups in the world today who are fueled by hatred. Especially when one takes into consideration the amount of divisiveness in society today, between the pundits and Monday morning âarm chair quarterbacksâ in a plethora of arenas, from the pulpit, the pews to politics. Many if not most, do not understand the topics, they are just against another party or person. By all accounts they are âwilling ignorantâ of the truth in order to avoid the facts. So, how can the servant of the Lord âbe gentle unto all menâ? Bear with me in a few illustrations to, Lord willing, bring to mind a fundamental equation in assisting us in being gentle unto all men. Have you ever âstuck your neck outâ for someone? Meaning you have suggested or provided a character reference of an individual for a job or a position. During the process of doing so, you bore witness on their behalf concerning their dependability, capabilities and even trustworthiness. Basically, you placed your own character in the judgment hall on behalf of someone else. With this thought, the person will only be awarded such position or employment based upon your personal testimony of their character. It is the same as co-signing a loan, two people are accountable for only one personâs actions. If they fail, you are at a loss as well, for you are the one who went on their behalf, testifying they could meet the needed requirements. Being gentle unto all men, as the servant of the Lord, works in the same manner. No, it is not easy, but neither should it be to offer a true assessment and testimony of another personâs character, knowing it is your own testimony at stake should they behave in an inappropriate manner. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus saying: âAnd be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.â (Ephesians 4.32). Beloved, forgiveness is the greatest Christlike character one may ever portray. In this verse we see God has forgiven us, solely for Christâs sake, without the witness or testimony of Christ, we would not and could not be forgiven. Take note, forgiveness occurs at the end of a chapter over whelming dealing with the âspeechâ of a Christian. We find in Vs. 25 âWherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.â As well as in Vs. 29-31 âLet no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:â. As a general rule, what exits our mouth is what rules in our heart. If we are truly forgiving one another our tongue will bear witness of life giving and blessed words. Our words are evidence of our forgiveness. The Bible tells us concerning the tongue, among many many other things, âAnd the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.â (James 3:6). In order to have a fire there must be a perfect combination of a flame, fuel and oxygen. You can have the fuel without oxygen and there will be no fire; just as you can have the oxygen and fuel without a flame and there will no fire. When I was a lad, I remember playing with matches, which was and is not a good idea. We used have these glass fluted Gatorade bottles. One time I filled the bottle about 1/4 full with gasoline and for some reason decided to throw a lite match inside. To my amazement, there was no explosion, only a slight ring of fire illuminating from the opening. I learned a valuable lesson in this bad decision, even though the fuel was in jar, the oxygen ceased at the top. Therefore until the fuel came out of the jar, there would not be a fire, but wherever the fuel went when it exited the jar, through the flame was a fire burning everything it came into contact with. Our words are similar, without the words exiting our mouth the combination needed to start a fire will not take place. The goal is for forgiveness to take place within, just as God for Christ;s sake forgave us. Therefore, extinguishing the feelings eliminating them from becoming words, thus setting ablaze a beloved brother or sister. âŚbut be gentle unto all men
This is part 4 of a multi-issue devotion concerning the topic of the Servant of the Lord. It is intended to encourage all believers and I pray it will do so. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; II Timothy 2:24-25
In an effort to become and continue as the servant of the Lord, we must be âgentle unto all menâ; one may consider what methodology would best achieve such a role in society. Inquisitions are performed with a perpetual evaluation seeking what must be done in order to consistently live as the servant of the Lord. It is obvious we are not to strive, meaning as such a servant we are to avoid strife. To a certain degree I would think this is given, a âno-brainerâ if you will. The Bible speaks against those who cause strife and in no uncertain terms reveals the damage they cause. Just a few examples from the book of Proverbs brings to light Godâs disapproval with strife: âCast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.â(Proverbs 22.10); âHe loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.â(Proverbs 17:19); âA wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.â (Proverbs 15.18);âA froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.â(Proverbs 16:28); âBetter is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.â(Proverbs 17:1). Even with these examples, it is one thing to understand the wickedness of strife and experience the grave contention it causes. It is yet another thing to apply the needed adjustments in our lives to avoid being the one who causes such reprehensible and divisive actions to the local body of Christ. When one evaluates the attributes of the servant of the Lord, all of them are positive, âgentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselvesâŚâ All of these are positive attributes which bring glory to God and fruit to His bounty. All, but the first, here we find something we are NOT to do which is to strive. It is the first qualification, the stepping stone to the attributes, which is an action of refusing to allow strife in the camp of our lives. One could almost say it is a prerequisite to the positive. In other words, if you strive, you cannot be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselvesâŚ
It is one thing to see the what, it is altogether something else to find the how. How can we not strive in becoming the servant of the Lord? I am reminded of an old story, one where a young man was eager to grow in his Christin life. This fellow took out a piece of paper to make a list of all the things he would do for God. He wrote down things he would give up as well as the places he would travel ministering to souls in need. He even listed, one by one, areas of the ministry he would enter. Such a list caused great excitement in his life. As he took it to the church, placing it on the altar, there was an expectation of joy, but instead he felt empty. He surmised the only way to resolve this issue was to add to the list, so he took the list home and began writing. He wrote down more things he would do and even more things he would not do. Back to church he went, now armed with an even longer list and placed it on the altar, yet to his surpriseâŚ nothing. Nothing at all. Surely there was a quick and easy fix to his dilemma he thought. The young man visited a wise, old pastor, sharing with him the situation and is desire to grow in his Christian life. After listening intently, the pastor said to him, âYoung man, take a blank sheet of paper. Sign your name at the bottom. Put that on the altar.â The young man did so and peace entered his heart in a wave of beautiful joy.
The Lord is not so much interested in our list of what we will or will not do, as much as He is interested in us simply surrendering to His will of whatever and wherever He chooses to write upon the blank sheet of of our life. This, my friend, is what it means to ânot striveâ in becoming the servant of the Lord found in the precious pure word of God. Sure we can make as many lists as we want and we can work as hard as we can, but at the end of the day, the Lord wants us as His. He is not interested in a job description concocted within our own minds, but a life given over to Him so He can mold and make us meet for the masterâs use as the servant of the Lord.
This is part 5 of a multi-issue devotion concerning the topic of the Servant of the Lord. It is intended to encourage all believers and I pray it will do so. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; II Timothy 2:24-25
Last week we addressed the aspect of the servant of the Lord not striving in the effort of âinstructing those that oppose themselvesâŚâ with the hope they âmay recover themselves out of the snare of the devilâ. One may wonder what it requires to âbe gentle unto all menâ. It surely is not a quality found among society as a whole these days. Yet, the Scriptures read: âIf it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.â (Romans 12:18). If we were to take this verse solely at face-value without examining the context within the surrounding verses we will determine we are to âdo our bestâ to live in peace with everyone or make an excuse saying âonly if it is possibleâ we are to live in peace with all men. The truth is, when we evaluate the context within the verses above and below by reading âBless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12.14-21). In these verses we can not only see the blessing of the Lord among His people, but we also experience His blessings in the lives of others. The context is complete and utter trust of the Lord Jesus Christ, a trust extending beyond salvation, but into the realm of daily living making a difference in the lives of others. Even when others mistreat us, or show the lack of kindness, our response determines the outcome of who receives the glory. âas much as lieth in usâŚâ is not referring to our ability, but rather the ability of the Holy Spirit. Sure, we are only flesh and blood and yes we are weak and full of faults. We all have short comings which interfere with our serving the Lord. In order to âbe gentle unto all menâ, we must rely on âas much as liethâ in us. The Lord Jesus Christ has filled us with the Holy Spirit, as soon as we were saved, thus enabling us to âbless them which persecute youâ, to âweep with them that weepâ, to âbe of the same mind one toward anotherâ, to âmind not high thingsâ, to âbe not wise in your own conceitsâ, and to âprovide things honestâ. Beloved, it is then and only then can we âlive peaceably with all menâ. When this happens, when we as believers in Christ are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to comfort us and control us we have such a love in our heart to live peaceably with all men.
Whereas, all of those sounds amazing, it does not stop there, complete trust and dependance upon the Lord provides for us the ability to allow the Lord to repay any wrong doing others may have enacted toward ourself therefore overcoming evil with good. With such a foundation, the product becomes the âbeing gentle unto all menâ, which gentleness, is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians chapter 5.
What a tremendous blessing to understand all of us can remove strife from our life allowing gentleness to become a beautiful testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in a world where kindness, gentleness and simple politeness has been overshadowed by quite the opposite. What is surprising, much of what we have seen and heard about this subject is simply a choice. I am reminded of the story of Prentice Henderson, who lived to be 100. This man lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II and buried his wife. He did not retire until he was well into his 70s and faithfully taught a Sunday School class of 7th grade boys for over 30 years at First Baptist Church. He had a simple little philosophy of living, he said: âI choose to be happyâ. His daughter would later testify she remembered him as âalways positive regardless of the situation.â Just imagine how many souls and multiple generations this man influenced, because he âchose to be happy.â I would say he was âgentle unto all menâŚâ the servant of the Lord. âŚbut be gentle unto all menâŚ
This is part 2 of a multi-issue devotion concerning the topic of the Servant of the Lord. It is intended to encourage all believers. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,25 In meekness...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;26 And that...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."Â I Corinthians 13:1. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul tells us that even if he were to speak...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
(A Psalm of David)Â The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.â Psalms 23:1 Â Â Â Along with John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm would probably be among the most wellÂ known verses in all the world.Â Men have quoted it, movies have recited it and monuments...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Â Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Â The beast of the field...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 It is that time of year again when familiesÂ gather...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. Â And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. 21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4 With all thatÂ we have to be thankful for in this life, I would be amiss not toÂ focus upon the need toÂ give thanks for...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Matthew 5:41 The Sermon on the Mount is a doctrinal statement for a Jewish Kingdom at the Second Advent of Christ. Â This is without argument contained within the Word of God...[ abbreviated | read entire ]