Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dead End

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Jam. 1:15)

“Every sin in our lives sets us up for the death of something; it’s a spiritual law.” Not too long after we had joined our church, the pastor drove home this truism to us one morning in a penetrating sermon. I jotted it down and put it away. Besides the death of the body, the end of sin’s road is eternal death in hell; and without Supernatural intervention, nothing will keep us from reaching our destination. It is a law as sure (and even more so) than any law of nature. There is nothing positive about sin. It is its own extreme. Because it is not only an offense to our own bodies, but an affront to God Almighty as well, sin—even the so-called “good ones”­—become “exceeding sinful,” according to Romans 7:13.

But sin deals a mortal blow to other things, as well. It’s a killer of joy, peace, reputation, trust, and hope, to name a few. It can dissolve a church, a friendship, or a marriage. Sin leeches spiritual strength like a slow leak in a tire, until life is flat and we find ourselves at a standstill. Often, it’s like high blood pressure: “the silent killer.” The overt sins that shock others and us are actually old secret sins, come to light. We can harbor them only so long in our bosoms until they belch forth into our active lives. And all of them—the ones we hide and the ones we flaunt—are dead ends of one kind or another.

James tells us the sequence of sin begins with inherent lust, goes through an experience of conception, and ends finally with a death. Of the three, the point at which intervention can take place is conception; and the trap is set during the period of lust: temptation. I leave you with this final warning…

“Toying with temptation will spring the trap.”

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Strength For the Battle

“For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle…” (Psalm 18:39a)

        In case you hadn’t noticed, life is a battle. And in our case, as children of God, the opposing forces are supernatural (Eph. 6:12). They may not look like the creatures in The Lord of the Rings, but they are every bit as menacing. When you and I strive to do right, there will always be someone or something, whether seen or unseen, trying to influence us in the opposite direction. Be it (unreasonable) reasoning, cajoling, or intimidation—every possible means will be brought to bear. Some of the battles will be ongoing; others will be decisive. Some will represent minor skirmishes, while others may escalate into bloody assaults. But the overall description of our Spiritual lives, whether it is victory or defeat, will depend upon the success of our battling.

        For this reason, God, in His infinite wisdom and love, has made provision for perpetual victory. We may not always experience it, but it is always at our disposal. One need not be strong-willed or even strong-minded, only strong in faith. You know, like the grain of the little mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). In fact, according to 2 Corinthians 12:9, the least endowed among us may be the most qualified to display the personification of strength. “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Does this mean those of us designated as the “weaker vessel” (1Pet. 3:7) have an edge on spiritual strength? Just a thought.

         As I say, these Spiritual battles are life-long and hard-fought, and we should not be surprised that the bloodiest battle of all may be the last one. It was certainly true for our Lord. There comes a time when even a mighty warrior may hang up his armor in hopes of resting from battle, content to remember the glory. Has not the armor become rusty with use, as well as the warrior? No, we need have no fear in either case. Our text tells us that as long as the battle rages (all the way to the end), there will be strength, and so we can be assured, the needed armor (Philip. 4:19).

        This eighteenth Psalm makes it abundantly plain that the source of all this wonderful strength is the Lord God Almighty (vv.1-2, etc.); and we are exhorted to solicit His aid in every battle we face. All we have to do it tell Him we will provide the body, if He will provide the armor; we will engage the enemy, if He will strike the final blow. You and I have the option of going through this life victorious, from battle to battle, in His strength. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them… They go from strength to strength…” Psl. 84:5 &7

        With these “rules of engagement,” we can say with confidence, “[T]he Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Ha! 

John Henry Jowett (The Whole Armour of God) says of Romans 8:37  “…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors…” “To be more than conqueror is to be on the top of the old serpent, and, as (Robert) Browning says, to stand upon him and to feel him wriggle beneath your feet.”’


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Heart To Hand Lifeline

“And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. – 2 Cor. 8:5

There is a term used when a hospital operating room reaches a point where there are more emergency cases than the staff is prepared to handle. It’s called CODE BLACK. This Fall I watched a TV series by that name. This situation only happens two to three times a year in an ordinary OR, but there is one in Los Angeles, where it occurs regularly 360 nights a year. I found the series both informative as well as entertaining.

For instance, the last episode dealt with an infestation of airborne bacteria that killed, horribly, within several hours. Obviously, the whole facility had to be put under quarantine. Finally, one person was found who had a natural immunity from which they were able to make an antidote that could be administered as a blood transfusion. Because there was no way of preserving it, however, it had to be a one-to -one procedure until they were able to reproduce the immunity in others. The first direct transfusion was done between an artery of the donor and a vein of the recipient. In the episode I saw, the two held hands across two beds as the transfusion took place. As I watched it, tears began to well up in my eyes, and I said softly to myself (and God), “That’s what I have experienced over this past year.”

There were times when I lay powerless with pain, nausea or fear and would suddenly feel a wave of peace and contentment flow over my soul and through my body as if someone’s life’s-blood had begun to slowly move from him or her to me. Not only that, financial aid to help defray medical expenses that would have otherwise smothered us has come in. There have been gifts, some handmade. Some that made me cry, as well as one I just received that made me laugh out loud, literally. And, oh, the words of comfort, assurances of prayer through the mail, emails, phone texts, posting on Facebook, etc.! To know that my name is being brought before the throne of grace at all hours is a veritable lifeline to the grace of God for me.

But, aside from other obvious reasons why this type of transfusion is only used in unusual circumstances, one other is that the amount of blood going from the donor to the recipient cannot be measured, therefore both must be constantly monitored. I know in my own case, what I have received, and am still receiving, from my brothers and sisters in the Lord during this time, is immeasurable. What it has, and is, costing them only God knows, but to me it goes far beyond money, prayers, gifts, cards, and time. It’s life…just as surely as a blood transfusion means life. You and I are side by side, and a lifeline has been opened between your heart and hand to my heart and hand. And only God can say when it’s enough.

As long as He wills it so, I remain your recipient and debtor.