"No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life,
Nuts to You
Sue and I were once trying to pry resistant nuts from their shells. They would crack open, but were very difficult to get out from the inside of their casings. Suddenly, a bright idea struck me. I put one in the microwave oven for ten seconds. Then, when I cracked the nut, no longer did it cling to the shell, but came out without the slightest resistance.
If there is one thing that will bring the timid Christian out of his shell, it is the heat of persecution. That's all that happened when God allowed Saul to put the early Church in the heat of the microwave. Persecution put the fear of God in the hearts of those who were exercised by it. The puritan author, William Gurnall, the author of, The Christian in Complete Armour of which Spurgeon said, "Gurnall's work is peerless and priceless," said:
The Army of God executes deserters, cowards and traitors (Hebrews 10:26, Revelation 21:8). Trials also can have the effect of bringing us to our knees and seeking God's will rather than our own.
In South Korea, a baseball team called the "Dolphins" began a training program with a difference. They would climb a high mountain, remove their shirts and stand bare-chested in the freezing wind. Then they would dig holes in the ice, and subject their bodies to freezing cold water. They said that it made the team hardy, and also promoted team unity. They went from being a laughing-stock, to the top of the league. Now all the other teams have imitated their training program.
As much as we don't like the thought, blessings tend to take our eyes off God, and trials put them back on. Icy tribulation builds strength of character within the Christian, and the cold winds of persecution purify the Church bringing a sense of unity of purpose. We need not wait for God's chastening hand; if we chasten ourselves, we need not be chastened. We must focus our hearts on God now. Without a genuine move of His Spirit in the near future, an entire generation will destroy itself.
In 1963, the U.S. Government took the Ten Commandments off the walls of the schools and prayer from the classroom, and the nation is reapn is reaping a whirlwind of destruction. When there is no wall of absolute authority, anarchy comes in like a flood. When a generation has no fear of God before their eyes, then the laws which forbid murder have no influence. On any given day in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 guns and knives are smuggled into schools.
How on earth do we move the Hand of the God of Heaven? The answer is, and has always been two-fold. We must first get on our knees and beseech God to save this generation, then ask Him to use us to take the means of salvation to the unsaved. He has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. He has entrusted us with the Word of reconciliation, and it is therefore up to us to break free from that which binds us.
Three front row infantrymen were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. The King told them to bow down to his idol, but rather than sin against God, they refused. They knew that the Law said,
The three godly men loved God and therefore kept His Commandments. Their choice was to compromise and keep in good with the king, or obey God whole-heartedly and be cast into the fiery furnace. These men knew what was acceptable. Like David when he faced Goliath, they didn't need to seek the mind of the Lord in this matter, because the Law had already given them knowledge of right from wrong.
Look at what they said to the King when he threatened them with such a terrible death:
The warrior of Jesus Christ will not bow down to the golden image of mammon, with its promise of gratification, security and comfort. Even if the devil threatens to heat up the furnace of persecution and tribulation seven times, he will not bow down. He looks to the Word of God as his authority "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts." He is a soldier of Christ and therefore thanks God that he has been counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Savior. He is as Moses who broke free from the gratification of Egypt, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."
In the natural realm, we cause muscle growth through resistance. If you want to grow physically, get into a swimming pool and hold a five gallon container filled with water at head level. To stay afloat, you will have to kick for dear life. The key in this exercise is to have the lid off the container, face it down and let the water drain out as you kick. A great consolation is that you know that as time passes, as you tire, the weight is going to get lighter, and that knowledge will spur you on.
As you step into the waters of personal evangelism, the weight of apprehension may seem unbearable, but as you pour yourself out for the Gospel, you will have the knowledge that God will relieve you of the weight. Each time you exercise yourself in this, you will strengthen yourself spiritually.
Hive of Activity
Pray that God would raise up more laborers, because there are so few. Sometime ago, I finished speaking at a church in Minneapolis, when the pastor of evangelism took hold of the microphone. He was an ex-cop, and his voice cracked with emotion as he spoke of an accident victim he once held in his arms. The critically injured man thrashed back and forth for a moment, sighed deeply, then passed into eternity. The pastor's voice was filled with emotion, because his own church had over a thousand members, and only five attended his evangelism class. It was obvious that the army's hive of activity was in the barracks of everything but evangelism. He pleaded, saying, "What's wrong with you? Don't you care that people in our city are going to Hell? I can teach you to rid yourself of fear..."
His was no proud boast. The prison doors of fear can be opened with very simple keys -- a knowledge of God's will, ordered priorities, love that is not passive, gratitude for the cross, and the use of the Law before Grace.
The Voice of the Rescuer
On a warm spring day in New York, a fire broke out in a high rise building. When firemen arrived, they saw a man on a ledge on the 12th floor. Smoke billowed out from the building, blinding the terrified man and forcing him to the very edge. Death seemed to licks its lips. Quickly, a fireman was lowered from above by a rope, and thankfully rescued him before he was forced to jump to his death. The delivered man said that it was a miracle that he was saved. He said that he was blind, but heard the voice of his rescuer, and from there clung to him for dear life.
How perfectly that sums up our salvation. We had climbed the stairs of the high rise of sin, and found that the Law of sin and death forced us onto the ledge of futility. We stood blind, fearful, helpless and hopeless . . . until we heard the voice of our Savior. We heard the joyful sound of the voice of the Son of God, as He reached out His holy hand and snatched us from death's dark door.But there are still others on the ledge going through the terror we once experienced. We cannot rest until we direct them into the hands of Jesus. I thank God that He saved me while I was young, while I still have energy to reach out to the lost. I pray that God will make me to know the number of my days that I might "apply my heart to wisdom," and it's the epitome of wisdom to spend every ounce of energy and every moment of every day seeking the salvation of souls...there is no higher calling.
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