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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Sept. 2, 2007

  • 2007 Sep 02
  • COMMENTS
 

Spirit Filled Ministry in Desperate Times

Conclusion continued from September 1st

 

 

 

 

 

 

God always rewards good and eventually punishes all evil. No detail, no matter how minute--escapes His attention. 

Every human choice and every action has consequences, whether good or ill. We are all affected by the choices others make as well! This reality of consequences and God’s Laws that govern the physical and spiritual universe I’d like to call—“The Consequence Engine”. 

Consider God’s consequence engine. Let me explain it as we turn to Galatians 6:7-9 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart 

"All of us have had some sample, some contact, some encounter with the power of nature -- we are awed by the mighty thundering of a storm that breaks upon our heads suddenly, or by the power of breakers dashing upon the shore… Nature is one great mass of energy.   

"But, more than that, all of us have experienced some knowledge of the sovereignty of God in nature. We don't play around with the laws of nature. Have you noticed that? When we discover a natural law, we are careful to observe it because, oftentimes, our very lives are at stake. 

"You don't go fooling around with the law of gravity. You don't get on top of a 15-story building and shove your hands in your pockets and nonchalantly stroll over the ledge to show people how superior you are to the law of gravity. You won't break the law of gravity -- you'll just illustrate it. They'll just scoop you off the pavement! 

"We don't play around with the laws of electricity. When a wire is charged with 10,000 volts, we know that it will operate according to a strict and precise law, and we are careful to observe that law because one little mistake is enough to cause us to forfeit our life[1].  

Remember that not only are there great "natural" (built-in) laws at work in the physical realm, so there are also even more important laws at work in the spiritual realm.   

Sin always pays us back with boredom, guilt, shame, loneliness, confusion, emptiness, loss of purpose, not to speak of--loss of rewards. 

All sin is forgivable but--all sin also has consequences.  The consequence engine is regulated by the law of sowing and reaping in life. This great truth has never been revoked, altered, or amended. The consequence engines connected with sowing and reaping run with 100% reliability century after century in every generation. 

  • Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  

Although we often forget about it, both halves of this verse impact all of us. In reality, most Christians find we may still be reaping the unpleasant long-term consequences of past bad choices and at the same time, as forgiven sinners, we are probably also sowing to the Spirit for a future positive harvest.

We only have two choices in life—pleasing God by what we do or pleasing our self. Paul explained in Romans, that we are all servants (slaves), and there are only two choices of which master we choose to serve: 

  • Romans 6:16-23 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

We only have two building materials in life—what will last and what will not. That is another New Testament description of the consequence engine at work in the life of the Christian. What we do (build) in life will either endure or we will suffer loss: 

  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 

So how do we minister in an ever darkening and desperate world without losing the power of God by grieving His Spirit? By Following the Pattern--David is God’s Example to us 

I believe that God captured David’s highs and lows for our benefit. God records his successes and failures for our learning.  And all that is because God is teaching us how to please Him by the correct responses to our circumstances in life.  

David has been recorded by God in His Word as an example to us in how to find all we need in Jesus—no matter we ever will face in life, David mirrors a response that pleases God that we can follow. 

So God devotes 141 chapters—more than for any other person, to David’s life. How much coverage does God give others in His Word[2]. In the scope of portraits recorded in the Scriptures here are the statistics for the six most described people in God's Word. 

All that to say that, the most talked about, the most portrayed, the most described example for us in all of God's Word is–David. 

So it would be good to stop and get the big picture of his life as recorded in God's Word all over again. This is a time to jot notes in your Bible or take some extra notes and just see the whole scope of the dealings of the Lord with this special servant he called the man after His own heart! 

David explains his habits as a young man that fortified him for Goliath, a life of hardship and for being so useful to God. He explains this in Psalm 132 which records how David started walking with the Lord as a young boy. This may be David’s confession after being anointed King by Samuel (1st Samuel 16.13) and looking back and remembering God’s Hand on his life. This Psalm may be written in his youth as a resolve for his young years or later when he starts his career as King—as a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the past and a reaffirmation of his consecration to the Lord. Some key truths from this Psalm are: 

1.    This psalm could be called David’s spiritual secret—what made him the Giant that we see him to be from the Scriptural record of his life.

2.    David put God ahead of comfort in v. 3-5. He made time for God a holy habit in his life. Is it yet for you? Without regular, consistent, disciplines time alone with God—you and I will never amount to anything for eternity!

3.    David also personally longed for God as a young shepherd boy. His family probably kept the Sabbath and the Feasts—but David had an internal, personal longing inside of his own heart for the Lord. Do you? Or is it just your parents that make you come and read and serve? Is it just your family or husband or wife that keeps you kind of going? Reality in spiritual life only comes when it is personal longing from your heart for God.

4.    David wanted to be clothed with righteousness in v. 9a. That means he wanted to live the Lord’s way as much as possible. Consecration to the Lord was a choice. He wanted to come before the Lord like a holy priest. And isn’t that what God says we are to be—his holy priesthood that spend our life bringing Him offerings of worship and deeds of sacrificial service? Are you clothed with consecrated righteousness and living each day as a priest?

5.    David engaged in corporate worship in v. 9b. Note the plural 'saints’. He was personally a seeker of the Lord and that made him come into the congregation of saints with such a zeal he wanted to 'shout’ to the Lord. This verse in repeated as v. 16. Do you engage in corporate worship? Does your heart shout? Does your face radiate a deep love for the Lord or a distracted, disconnected air of indifference to the times we join our hearts in worship to the Lord God Almighty? 

David also had made some vows for personal conduct and consecration. These resolves (much like Jonathan Edwards) are captured in Psalm 101 which can be called David’s pact for purity. He fled to the Lord as his refuge from sins of his youth. This Psalm may be written in his youth as a resolve for his young years or later when he starts his career as King—as a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the past and a reaffirmation of his consecration to the Lord. Some key truths from this Psalm are: 

  1. The pathway to a godly life contains personal choices or resolves of holiness to God. Note the seven “I wills” (2a, 2b, 3a, 4b, 5b, 5c, 8a).
  2. David sought personal integrity as his goal v.2b.
  3. David made a personal pact of purity for his life and conduct v. 3a.
  4. David had a habit of scraping off anything displeasing to the Lord from his life (like coming in from the horse barn; like barnacles on a boat; like taking a shower before a date) in v. 3b.
  5. David chose to limit his exposure to evil and things that would displease the Lord in v. 4-5. He specifically says any sin I will not look at (v. 3 ‘nothing wicked before my eyes’ and v. 4b ‘not know [experience for myself] wickedness’).
  6. David sought to always have proper heroes to look up to and emulate in v. 6a.
  7. David had a life long plan to purge evil from being around his life and acceptable in his presence v. 8. (Like Paul having the Ephesians burn anything to do with Satan—so we must not have pornographic or occultic books, videos, games, and music in our homes, cars, computers, lives or minds.) 

Some practical steps to overcome loneliness are these:

  1. Deal with sin. Be sure that there is no unconfessed or unforsaken sin left in your life to give the Devil a place in your life. (Eph. 4:27)
  2. Share your burdens. Clearly tell the Lord all your fears, all your struggles, all your pains—remember that He knows our frame that we are dust. (Psalm 103)
  3. Abandon all self-pity. Constant self-sorrow is a one way ticket to loneliness. Self-pity denies we have a responsibility to deal with our emotions and thus frustrates any cure. As Jesus said, coming after Him means we deny our self (Luke 9:23). 

Living with God’s Power in our life is a choice. 

We need to thoughtfully and deliberately respond to the truth of God’s Word that we have heard today. I know of no more clearer pathway to killing our selfishness and encouraging consecration than the life purpose adopted by Thomas Chisholm in his poem Living for Jesus.  

Why not stand and join me in affirming again these flesh crucifying, life consecrating words. Decide today that you want to sow to the Spirit, denying and crucifying your flesh, and make every day a day of Living for Jesus: 

Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free—this is the pathway of blessing for me. 

Living for Jesus who died in my place, bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace—such love constrains me to answer His call, follow His leading and give Him my all. 

Living for Jesus thru earth’s little while, my dearest treasure the light of His smile, seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him. 

Chorus: O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master—my heart shall be Thy throne: My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone. 



[1]  Ray C. Stedman, http://raystedman.org/romans1/0006.html

[2] All statistics from the KJV Bible.

 

 

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

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