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Nov 25, 2010

Every Knee Shall Bow

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Scriptural Basis:

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11


Application:

For this issue of Strength for the Day (SFTD) please watch and listen to this amazing video that is so appropriate to our lives this time of the year. Here in the midst of holiday shopping that characterizes the season spanning Thanksgiving and Christmas, the clear message of the Gospel rings out into the culture in the words of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah.
An offering of gratefulness for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and for you who support us with your prayers and gifts and faithful reading of SFTD, from the Paul Anderson Youth Home to your homes this Thanksgiving Day!


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Nov 19, 2010

Getting to “Due Time”

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5040199394_8886bb3fb7Scriptural Basis:

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18


Application:

I have been in a funk all this last week. While transporting quite a number of the most used books in my library back to Georgia, they were all stolen off the back of our car in Tennessee; a large container of 70-80, many large hardbacks. Since they were all theology books I am hoping Tennessee is a bit more sanctified than it was. Many can be replaced with enough money; unfortunately, there were out of print and hard to find books mixed in, and my late mother’s Bible in which she had written extensively in the margins throughout. I have been using it in my Bible reading for the last two years. As I was sharing my misfortune with a close friend he brought my feelings under divine scrutiny by telling me of the severe troubles that have just recently impacted two families we both know. After hearing the depth of their suffering, my case is brought into a more realistic perspective: truly “light and momentary.
Isn’t it true that all of us who claim Christ as Lord and know His Word still need to be reminded of verses like the text above on a regular basis to get our “eyesight properly aligned? Perhaps one of the most thought and asked questions in life is, “Where is the God of justice? (Malachi 2:17) Or, how soon will the injustices of life be avenged? In the Apostle John’s Patmos vision of Revelation when God draws back the curtain on heaven past and future, even “righteous men made perfect, martyrs who inhabit the courts of heaven now, are seen to call out for justice and the avenging of their blood, as they ask, “How long, O Sovereign Lord, how long? (Revelation 6:9-11). Even Jesus’ response to these crises of injustice is, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. Time creatures that we are God’s “quickly and our “quickly are two quite different things, but the difference in perspectives will be obliterated in “due time. The “due time of Deuteronomy 32:35 and 1 Peter 5:6 will come; some will be made ready and “fit, while others will receive their due!
The interim is definitely not “wasted time. Nothing even close to “wasted. There is a process going on in the “interim that one day we will not be able to find enough words for which to thank God that He did not bang the gavel of justice any sooner. Though we often have to have the wax cleaned out of our ears, this message of the resulting glory of the perseverance and patience of faith practically leaps off the pages of the Scriptures throughout the entire Bible. But often we are stone deaf to it. The chiseling of the Magnificent Sculptor of our lives is ever at work using orchestrated events, troubles, people and time to insure that we will stand in the judgment that is coming. Malachi 3 and 4 is one of those many bull horns of Scripture used of God to penetrate the wax build-up in our ears. This is what God is about in the interim of which we often complain, because the Day of the Lord is coming when the Sculptor’s work will be forever complete; and He will say, “Today is due time!


Encouragement:

“The Son of God goes forth to war, a kingly crown to gain; His blood red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train? Who best can drink His cup of woe, triumphant over pain, who patient bears his cross below, he follows in His train.
“The martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave, who saw his Master in the sky, and called on Him to save: Like Him with pardon on his tongue in midst of mortal pain, he prayed for them that did the wrong: Who follows in his train?
(First two verses of Reginald Heber’s hymn, “The Son of God Goes Forth to War, 1827)


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Nov 11, 2010

Is Today Your Hanging Day?

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Scriptural Basis:

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8


Application:

I never felt closer to death than when serving as an infantry platoon leader in Viet Nam. For the purpose of preserving my life and the life of my men I learned everything I could about our enemy; how they operated, where they set ambushes, the way they camouflaged booby traps; anything I could learn from the Vietnamese soldiers who had come over from their side and worked for us as scouts. Unfortunately, many Christians do not have such an appreciation for their greatest enemy and seldom study his methods. The Scriptures are not silent about him, and Jesus exposes him as a masquerading, cunning, persevering master liar; a lethal destroyer of lives, relationships, marriages, families, churches, reputations, and anything good. Dr. Samuel Johnson, one of the most distinguished man of letters in English history, observed, “I know of no thought that so wonderfully concentrates a man’s mind as the thought he will be hanged in the morning. The devil goes into every day planning how he might hang you and yours in some temptation or another; some masquerade that he uses to divert your path into ruin; some method by which he may entice you into some pleasure leading inevitably to his greatest delight: your pain!
There are two familiar passages of Scripture where the devil is stripped naked of all his manifold disguises: Job 1 and the wilderness temptation of Jesus after his baptism. Satan planned to ambush Jesus there, but his ambush boomeranged. Jesus stripped him of his mask drawing him out into the open that we his prey might get a good look at our arch-enemy’s methods. We have no excuse to ever say, “I never knew he was so cunningly dangerous to my soul, my heart, my life. Luke 4:5-7 reads, “The devil led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours. This encompasses any and all “pleasing to your eyes, “convincing to your senses, “too good to pass up temptations that could ever possibly lead you into ruin; the ruin of your marriage, your children, your business, your calling, your relationships, your reputation, your faith. Why do we always think we alone are stronger, smarter, more capable than the devil and can navigate through any and all booby traps and “escape with the prize upon which we have set our heart? Yet we always think, “I can do this; I can have my cake, eat it, and survive the poison.
The three responses of Jesus to the devil are His antidote for us to escape the “hangman’s noose on a daily basis. “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Those who “get hung invariably are avoiders of the Word of God. They seldom ever feed on it and it doesn’t take many days without food to starve. Two: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Essentially, He is God, trust Him! What He has said is trustworthy, so don’t deviate from it. And finally, worship Him; not people, things, or money.
You will never fully appreciate the greatness or the presence of God in your life, until you get serious about knowing how the enemy who is stalking you operates especially on you. The Lord’s words to Cain are true for every one of us; “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. And in all this never forget the Lord’s promise, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!


Encouragement:

“Christian dost thou see them On the holy ground, How the powers of darkness Rage thy steps around? Christian, up and smite them, Counting gain but loss, In the strength that cometh By the holy cross.
“Christian, dost thou feel them, How they work within, Striving, tempting, luring, Goading into sin? Christian, never tremble; Never be downcast; Gird thee for the battle, Watch and pray and fast.
“Christian, dost thou hear them, How they speak thee fair? “Always fast and vigil? Always watch and prayer? Christian answer boldly, “While I breathe I pray! Peace shall follow battle, Night shall end in day.
(1st three verses from an unknown Greek source, by John Mason Neale, 1863)


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Nov 04, 2010

The Real Tsunami

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Scriptural Basis:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3


Application:

Writing this on the eve of the Mid-Term Elections the outcome is still unknown except for what the polls appear to project, correctly or not. November 1st, commemorates a true historical tsunami (this word is “in right now) that far exceeds any election in permanently impacting countless human lives. November 1st is Reformation Day, an annual remembrance of the 16th Century Reformation, which has undeniably shaped western civilization, the beginning of this country, and the foundation of the life we enjoy. The core principles of the Gospel recovered in the Reformation have been commonly set forth in a number of Latin phrases, the theological language of that day. The preeminent phrase expressing the common theme of all the Reformation phrases is this: Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone! And no matter what happens in these elections (as you read this you will know what happened), Soli Deo Gloria covers it all. In fact, for the true believer, in joy or sorrow, in triumph or failure, in any and all circumstances of life, Soli Deo Gloria is the highest and truest response one can offer; for the Sovereign God is still on the throne of the universe no matter what man chooses to do.
Yet, you may ask, as so many do, why should God desire all glory for Himself? Is this not what we consider arrogant, conceited, and self-serving in those we observe who seek to hoard glory for themselves while ignoring or denying the participation or assistance of others? But this is exactly where our view of God goes awry, whenever we contemplate who He is and does and what He asks of us; we judge Him ignorantly as an equal and project Him in our minds as we would other mortals. We so often fall into the error of seeing Him through the lens of our own experience of human character, behavior, emotions, perspective, or what have you. It’s true He created us in His image; but He did not make us gods equal to Himself. In our estimate of Him we must never ignore this, as we are so prone to do. Of necessity, for us to know Him as He is, God must draw back the curtain and show us. We cannot discover Him in and of ourselves. He chose to do this ONE way only: in the person of His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said plainly, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father and “I and the Father are One.
It is one thing to respond to all the events that confront us in life with the words “Glory to God alone, but what attests to our sincerity? Certainly, we would do what He asks of us, believing the One whom He has sent. But what attests to the sincerity of that belief? Jesus, speaking for Himself and His Father, summarized all They require of us in two simple sentences: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. And They knew us well when They commanded we love others as much as we love our self. Everyone loves him or herself; even the person who claims self-hatred; even the person who commits suicide; even the person who alienates them self from the rest of humanity. Their concern is not for others, nor for God, but solely for themselves. They are the center of their attention; it is their pain, their hatred, their thoughts, their opinion, their success, their misery, their GLORY, in life or in death. It reflects the self-love which is ingrained in our DNA, even, or especially when it is self-destructive.
What truly attests to the sincerity of giving all glory to God is to actually do what seems impossible when the rubber meets the road, namely loving our neighbor AS OUR SELF. If Jesus had not done it, we miserable self-loving wretches never would or could. But because He did, He opened a door for us. To actually do and experience what is otherwise impossible, we can only say, “Glory to God alone! For apart from Him, it ain’t never gonna happen. Yes, you may have your own glory; but you are never going to experience it until you sincerely know what Soli Deo Gloria means in your life. “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)


Encouragement:

“From the highest throne in glory, To the cross of deepest woe, All to ransom guilty captives, Flow my praise forever flow. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
(6th verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Mighty God While Angels Bless Thee, 1774)


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Nov 03, 2010

What Should We Say To Our Children About Politics?

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Can I say anything good?
Well, yesterday was election day and having just gone through another political season, I am sure politics is nearing the bottom of things we want to talk about with anyone right now! Still the question is a fair one, what do we want our children to learn from us about the world of politics and our responsibilities as citizens? Even if we say nothing to them, they are learning from us by what we say to others and to one another as parents. They learn from what we do or do not do with regard to our citizenship. As in everything, our children learn from us in the way we live our lives, from the passion we show or the lack of passion we have for people and/or our responsibilities.
In Peter’s First Epistle, we are instructed to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the hope that you have. (I Peter 3:15) Our hope is certainly our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also the hope we have for a world reformed by the Gospel because we are His disciples. Just as there are Christian spectacles through which we should see this present world, there is a Christian world-view we need to have in the political realm. It is this perspective we want to impart to our children. We want them to have and live out a Biblical world-view in everything!
The Christian cannot be divorced from politics, anymore than he can be divorced from living in the world. As Jesus prayed to His Father for his disciples, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15) We are in the world, but there is no necessity to be of it. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man that does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17) Politics is part of God’s plan for the world and the society in which we live. Like the world, it is susceptible to evil. “Dirty and “politics are two words commonly linked. But that should not be surprising in a fallen and sinful world.
Nevertheless, Romans 13 clearly sets forth both God’s sovereignty in the political arena and the truth that His children are not separated from it. We may not be politicians or even aspire to be, but politicians (magistrates, rulers, judges, governors, presidents, legislators et cetera) have an impact on our lives and the lives of our children. Some politicians and rulers are Christians and legislate or rule with Biblical principles, while others do not. But the Bible tells us that both types rule by God’s authority. It is He that raises up rulers and authorities, just as it is He that brings them down. God’s purposes in raising up evil rulers and authorities are not always known to us. Yet there is no one who thwarts His will. Everything conforms to His plan even though we do not always know exactly what it is.
Our concern, our responsibility, is to do His will in our personal lives, no matter what goes on around us. What others do is not an excuse that removes ours or our children’s responsibility before God. What does He require of you? That is the supreme question. Just as Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, (Matthew 22:21) we have responsibilities as citizens within the particular nation in which God has placed us.
Consequently, here are some principles to assist in instructing your children about their political responsibilities, before and after they come of voting age:

  1. Voting is a privilege that should be deeply appreciated and consistently performed.
  2. How we vote requires prayer and wisdom.
  3. Thoughtful consideration of politicians, political ideology, and issues using Biblical principles is necessary. Micah 6:8 is a good foundation: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Ask these questions as you determine your vote. Does the candidate or the position support and encourage:
    • Protection of freedom of worship in the nation?
    • Protection of God’s ordained social entities: marriage and family?
    • Commitment to God’s moral law as expressed in His commandments, to include the protection of human life?
    • Justice for all regardless of race or socio-economic status?
    • Loving concern for the poor?
    • Humility in actions and words?
    • Trustworthiness?
    • Commitment to integrity and ethical behavior?
    • National policies that follow our Lord’s command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    • National policies that pursue relief and freedom of the oppressed.
  4. Sometimes we are required to determine the lesser of two evils. Who (politician or party) or what (position or issue) will most help accomplish the above principles in the nation and the world?

In the world of politics, there will be many times we despair. However, this is true of life in a fallen world. We must teach our children the truth that, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) We have much to hope for in God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are neither to become cynical, nor alienated from the world and the political process as we wrestle with political realities. God always remains sovereign! Do not give in to despair! Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-14 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 with your children. Convey to them and remind yourself that in God we have hope. In Him we have every reason to press on and keep pressing on until He returns. Until that day, we are instructed to pray for those in authority over us, regardless of whether we voted for them or not.


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