Archive | November 2012

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Nehemiah 4:9-11, 15

Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.  Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”  And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” . . . And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.                           NKJV

 

Our two necessary responses when we are under attack by our adversaries are to pray to our God and stand watch (to be spiritually alert and prepared for whatever may come).

Our enemy will mobilize his legions, escalating his attack against us.  When you begin to work for the Lord to change things in your life for the better, you will find that you will be met with derision, and if you keep persisting, your adversaries are going to become very angry with you and attack you in a vicious, perhaps even physical, way.

But note how Nehemiah reacts.  He still relies on prayer.  And he does more than pray.  He posts a watch as well.  This combination of prayer and preparedness is a marvelous picture of how we, as believers, ought to face threats.

Yet still our adversary persists, and he launches a propaganda campaign against us.  There was an enormous amount of debris that had to be cleared away before God’s people could repair their walls.  It must have been very discouraging.

Our enemy will immediately take advantage of our weakness and discouragement.  Have you ever faced something like this?  Were you ever threatened at work when you tried to correct an immoral or illegal practice that was being carried on around you?  You may have been threatened with demotion, or the loss of your job, or perhaps even threatened with a physical attack.  These kinds of things may happen when we begin to right wrongs.

In setting a watch, we must observe exactly where we are being attacked.  Are we addicted to a bad habit, a drug, alcohol, gluttony, a wrong attitude, or bitterness of spirit?  When we have identified the source of attack, we must post a watch at that point.

Then we must review the spiritual resources available to us.  As Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.  Our great and awesome Savior stands with us in our peril.  When we remember this, we are reassured and renewed in courage.  Our adversary will unable to achieve anything with his attacks because “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).”

We are not alone.  The Lord is with us.

 

Jesus is risen!  He is awesome.  He is strong.  He is powerful.  Reckon upon Him, and you will be able to stand against the most subtle temptation and the most dangerous threats that come against you.       Ray Stedman

 

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Nehemiah 4:1-3

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.  And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing?  Will they fortify themselves?  Will they offer sacrifices?  Will they complete it in a day?  Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”                      NKJV

The opponents of God’s kingdom mock God’s people as His kingdom advances.  When our Lord Jesus Christ was suffering for our sins, it was the bystanders looking on that mocked Him.  When his persecutors had woven a crown of thorns, they jammed it upon his head, beating him over the head with a stick, and bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews !“ (Matt. 27:29).  Ridicule is an effective weapon because it can demoralize the enemy.  It is like an arrow that is shot at inward insecurity.  It plants the seeds of doubt.

Sanballat spread his poison to his brothers and the army of Samaria.  The opponents of Christ’s Church are never content to mock alone.  They must gain allies by spreading their hatred to others.  In the church of Corinth there was such a party spirit.  Certain factions said “I am of Paul,” others, “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas” (1 Cor. 1:12).

Have you come face to face with opposition?  The straight and narrow walk is frequently opposed by God’s enemies.  Young people, expect to be mocked and ridiculed when you stand up for sobriety and purity.  Sometimes such opposition comes from where least expect it.  When enemies raise up their heads, don’t be discouraged; bow down on your knees in prayer.  Commit the matter to God.  Faithfully, persevere in the pathway that is most pleasing to God.  Be prepared to avail yourself of all the ordinary means to complete the task for the glory of God.                       Daniel B. Towner

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 11:27-33

Then they came again to Jerusalem.  And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him.  And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?”  But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things:  The baptism of John–was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.”  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men’ “–they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed.  So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”                NKJV

 

Rather than seeking truth, the Jewish religious leaders were afraid of losing their earthly power and influence.  They refused to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah and that His power and authority was divine.  There greed and fear caused them to suppress the truth and reject the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In contrast to this is the boldness of John the Baptist who sought truth and was concerned about pleasing God rather than promoting himself.  The Jewish religious leaders also feared the response of the people.  The fear of God is not ignorant superstition, but the fear of people can lead to the suppression of truth and hiding our heads in the sand from the obvious presence and power of God.

The enemies of Christ do not question his teaching (which they had done many times before), but his calling and commission.  The evidence from the miracles was that Christ was the Messiah.  But they insisted that because he did not have their votes he was not authentic.  Christ brings John into this to show they were not worthy of their authority and that they had questioned a holy prophet of God.  Since John had pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, it was impossible to ascribe him authority without ascribing authority to Christ.  The Pharisees did not care about truth, but about maintaining their own tyranny.  So all the wicked, though they like to be perceived as pursuing truth, shut the gate of truth when it opposes their wicked desires.                     John Calvin

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Psalm 32:1-5

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.  When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity, I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, And you forgave the iniquity of my sin.             NKJV

David’s grief for his sin was bitter.  God’s chastisement afflicted his physical health.  His physical energy was sapped and his vigor was dried up.  He could find no relief until he made a full confession of his sin before God’s throne of grace.  When he “kept silent” his heart was filled with grief.  He was like a stream whose flow is dammed up.  His afflicted conscience was like a festering boil and until he used the lancet of confession, he knew no rest.  Finally in despair, he cast himself before the mercy seat and confessed the multitude of his iniquities before the omnipotent ruler of creation.

Immediately upon his repentance and confession, David received the joy of divine forgiveness.  His physical afflictions began to heal and he came forth from his prayer of confession to sing of the blessedness of one “whose transgression is forgiven.”

See the value of a grace-wrought confession of sin!  It is to be prized above all price, for in every situation where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession “deserve” mercy, but for Christ’s sake.  Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to purify us from our sins.  Truly, O Lord, You are a God “ready to pardon!”  Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.              Charles H. Spurgeon