Thursday, October 31, 2013

Week Forty-Four - Valiant


“…son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.”  I Samuel 16:18

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,

Let him in constancy follow the Master.

There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories

Do but themselves confound - his strength the more is.

No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,

He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,

We know we at the end, shall life inherit.

Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,

I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

                                             John Bunyan

Valiant – meaning worthy, strong, capable, skilful, very able and virtuous.  All of these definitions are portrayed in the description of David in I Samuel 16:18, but the final phrase, “and the Lord is with him”, captures the truth about being valiant.  Such strong character comes from the involvement of God in one’s life.  A valiant man knows that though he may be strong and wise, his real strength lies in the fact that God is with him.

Take time to look at the description of King David.  He was a talented musician, a brave warrior, a good businessman, well kept in appearance, and godly.  The Bible also describes him as a man after God’s own heart.  Acts 13:22 

We have only to look through Scripture to see other men and women of renown who were also valiant, Amos, Deborah, Esther, Daniel, Mary, Paul, etc.  Each of them rose to the calling of God in their lives to fulfil their God- appointed purpose in life.  Their equipping was not of their own power, but of God’s.  Their valiant choices and actions pointed to the power of God working in their lives and their total obedience and trust in their Lord.

They had made a heart choice to follow – to be a pilgrim.

Would you describe yourself as valiant?  If so, why?  If not, why?


“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.”  Psalm 60:12

Psalm 60:11 states that the help of man is vain in the time of trouble.  Sometimes we forget that and are disappointed when our fellows fail us or do not respond to our expectation.  Someone once stated that if we are looking for blessings from men, we are looking in the wrong place.  Blessings come from God alone. 
Help is the same.  Men are limited in what they can do, but when God is in the midst, there are no limitations.  He is able to subdue any foe.  He is able to alter any circumstance.  He is able to remedy any problem.  And when he does, such a charge of energy and praise rushes through our souls that we have to stop and acknowledge that God has fought our battle.
Sometimes others also see our success and fail to recognize that our strength is coming from our Saviour.  They want to laud praise on us for our great character, or wisdom, or strength.  Let us always be ready to give the praise where it is due.  Remember the words of Christ in John 15:5?  “For without me ye can do nothing”.
When we have this attitude we can do valiantly because we can work from the position that God is with us, he fights for us, and will cause us to prevail.  Our valiant actions are the result of God working through us to accomplish His will and to bring praise to His worthy name.

Do you recognize God’s involvement in your life?  Has he defeated any foes for you lately?


“Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.”
 I Chronicles 19:13.

Joab is leading the children of Israel as they are facing two foes - the Syrians and the children of Ammon.  He has divided the people into two armies and his battle plan is -  “if the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee.”  He then gives them the rally call of verse thirteen – “be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people…” He is charging them to do their best, to have courage, and to be valiant in battle. Notice that he then leaves the outcome of the battle fully in the hands of the Lord – “let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.” 

“Behaving ourselves valiantly” gives us a further picture of the meaning of valiant.  Here it has the idea of hardening one’s heart in order to give strength and to encourage, or to rally strength by physical and internal strength of character.  These people were in a hard spot.  The enemy was on both sides and they were out numbered.  Their commander had formulated a plan, but even he knew that the outcome is in God’s hands.  Nevertheless, he did not want to see them whimpering and fearful.  In battle they must do their part.  They must take up arms and defend themselves.  They must have stature and intent as they face the enemy.

We have a strong enemy and all around us the battle rages.  We, too, are not to be whimpering and living fearfully, but we are to be strong and courageous, as we trust in the Lord.  In Ephesians 6 Paul instructs us to put on the whole armour of God so that we can stand against the fiery darts of the wicked.  The words in the passage indicate that we are to stand valiantly and rely on the equipment God has provided.  We are to be strong, skilful and capable warriors.  So, to arms!  Are you ready?


“And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth…”  Jeremiah 9:3

This usage of the word “valiant” here means to rise, to be greater, to prevail, to cause to triumph, or to confirm.  The children of Israel had not stood for the truth of God.  They had given themselves over to idols and become company with evil men.  The character of the supplanter had overtaken them and they had become a family of liars.  They had gone away from the truth and had forgotten their God.  Israel was supposed to be the nation God would use to proclaim truth to the world. And in truth, eventually, they will be, but in this era they have failed miserably.  They are not standing for the truth of God.
To be valiant for the truth means that it is to be held high.  We are to live in such a way that the truth of God’s Word is triumphant and visually confirmed.  Lying is exactly the opposite of truth.  When we allow falsehoods and exaggeration to be commonplace in our language and lifestyle, we are not being valiant for the truth.  When we hold our tongues for fear of ridicule, or fail to witness when prompted by the Spirit, we are not being valiant for the truth.  Praising God in church on Sunday morning is not enough.  Our lives must show forth the truth of God valiantly.  We are to live honestly and courageously. 

Would you say that you confirm the truth of God by your language and lifestyle?  Does your life cause the truth of God to be lifted up and triumphant to those around you?  Are you valiant for the truth, or ashamed of it?


“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”  Hebrews 11:34

Hebrews eleven is knows as the Faith Chapter.  It is a history of those who walked by faith.  As we come to the later verses of the chapter the writer says that time would fail him to tell of all of the men and women who had stayed true to their faith, so he begins to condense his commentary by referring to actions instead of individuals. 

One never knows how much courage he has until he is faced with a situation requiring it. Nelson Mandela said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  To wax valiant in fight requires a person to not lay aside fear, but to face it.  I saw a banner once that said, “Courage is stronger than fear”, and when we think of the faithful ones who have gone before us who faced great persecution and even martyrdom, we can know that they experienced the truth of being valiant.

Even today, though sadly we rarely speak of it, Christians are under severe persecution throughout the world.  They are held in prisons waiting their outcome. They are mutilated and beaten. Reading accounts of such persecution is hard reading, but it is also glorious as the believers give count of the grace of God in their lives.

You or I might never be called upon to face such persecution, but we can pray for those who do.  We can pray for them to wax valiant, to have the courage to face their fear, to know God is with them in the battle and to give them comfort and great faith.

Do you pray for the persecuted brothers and sisters around the world?  They are the valiant of our day - they need your prayers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week Forty-Three - Truth


“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  John 14:6

He – Jesus – is the truth.  Men may surmise, invent, dispute, and question, but it remains the same – Jesus is the truth.  He is true about all He has revealed about the Father.  He is true about all he has shown of Himself.  He is true about the state of man.  He is true about righteous living.  He is true.  He is right.  And in this, He is solid, and we can be solid as we accept His truth.  As Bible-believing Christians we would not dispute this.  We accept it wholly and without question because this Truth has come to live in our hearts and is alive in our soul.

To the lost world, however, this verse is elitist and divisive.  They view it as saying that there is only one way to God and all other ways are wrong.  The verse is considered by the European view as a “hate” verse and as such is not to be used in the public arena.

What amazes me about the blindness of men’s hearts toward the truth is that even when they can say what the truth is, they cannot or will not accept it.  The verse does mean that there is only one way to God and all other ways are wrong, but it is not the intent of Jesus to push man away, but rather to give man a clear and concise truth upon which He can find his way to God.

That was the question posed by Thomas to the Lord – “…how can we know the way?”  And the answer was – I am the way – the truth – and the life!  How much more simply need Jesus be about the truth!


“...speaking the truth in love…”  Ephesians 4:15

I don’t know about you, but I usually find this a hard to accomplish.  I need to tell someone something that could potentially be hurtful but the goal is to instruct or warn and the words I choose can determine the outcome.  I have had it go both ways.  Sometimes the words will be received thankfully and with the love intended, but other times the words are rejected and resented or perceived to have come with evil intent.

Matthew Henry says, “Love is an excellent thing; but we must be careful to preserve truth together with it.  Truth is an excellent thing; yet it is requisite that we speak it in love, and not in contention.  These two should go together – truth and peace.”

Before I speak the truth in love I must examine my motivation.  Am I speaking from love, or from fear?  From love, or from a desire to control?  From love, or anger?  From love, or frustration?  If I am speaking from love it will be with the desire to aid, to warn, to bring growth, to lift up or restore.  There will be no “self” promotion or victory in it.  It will be totally for the benefit of the other.

And then I must ask myself, “Am I speaking truth?”  Speaking truth, or my own agenda?  Speaking truth, or manipulation?  Speaking truth, or spreading discontent?  Speaking truth, or painting a distorted picture?

Speaking the truth in love requisites that I know what the truth is and that my motivation is pure and without contention.  Even when I can say “yes” to that statement, I need to proceed only as led by the Spirit and in the fear of the Lord.

Do you find it difficult to speak the truth in love?  Or, do you blurt out truth under the mask of love when your real intention is to express your agenda or discontent? 


“...let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”  I John 3:18

This verse pushes us forward from just speaking truth to doing truth.  Today’s society is trying, and has succeeded for the most part, in pushing believers out of the mainstream.  We are told we can pray, but not in public places.  We are told that our faith has no relevance in society and that it is absurd and embarrassing to need such a crutch.

But we are called to be salt and light in a darkened world.  J.C. Ryle said, “We have the truth and we need not be afraid to say so.”

Tiegreen wrote, “Do not be intimidated by this world.  It seeks answers but condemns anyone who claims to have them.  It honours openness to all kinds of “truths’ but scoffs when one accepts the truth…We have no apologies to make for offering the light of salvation to a world in darkness.  If fact, we owe apologies to the Lord if we do not…”

The truth we have to give comes in the words we say and in the lives we live.  If the world is to see the light it must hear and see the truth.  Our words and lives must match.  We cannot be “secret agent” Christians.  We must be actively involved in speaking truth and living truthfully.  Truly we are in the society we are in due to the fact that Christian’s stopped speaking and living truth!

To love in deed and truth might mean getting out of our comfort zones.  It might mean stepping up and speaking against wrong practices.  It might mean saying, “no” to invitations or temptations.  It will mean living a life exposed and infused by the True Light.

What about you?  Do you hide away at work hoping no one will ask you any questions?  Do you go along with the crowd?  Are you intimidated by the world’s mandates on what is socially acceptable? Why not stand up and speak up!?


“...his truth endureth to all generations.”  Psalm 100:5

A study in history will reveal that man is the same.  He has not changed since being cast from the Garden of Eden.  He is sinful and in need of a Saviour.  His motivations are for self alone and his heart not only deceives others, but himself as well.  He is truly a wretched creature.

We can read through the Book of Acts and see the spread of the Gospel and man’s reaction.  Some received.  Some rejected.  Some heard and let it pass.  Others heard and had violent reactions.  Comparing then the Epistles written to the various groups of believers at this time shows them facing the same enemies we face today - enemies of truth. 

Every culture that has rejected Truth has deteriorated into it’s own demise.  Yet in the midst of these failing cultures we will find small handfuls of believers devoted to maintaining and passing on the truth.  Though dictators and governments have tried to legislate and martyr truth out of existence it still remains!

It remains because it is not man’s truth.  It is God’s Truth.  It will endure.  When I am tempted to believe that society will be victorious, I recall the verse in Proverbs 21:30.  “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.”  No matter how smart man thinks he is, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot defeat God.  He cannot outsmart God.  God and His truth will remain – from generation to generation.  My part is to pass this truth on to the next generation.  And what a joy that is to tell my children and grandchildren of the goodness and greatness of God. To give them truth upon which they can build solid and successful lives.

And you?  Are you tempted to give in to the enemies of truth?  Do you find the battle wearying?  Hold on, dear friend, God is still true.  His Word is still true and though the battle rage, the victory is secure!  How great is our God!


“...truth is fallen in the street…”  Isaish 59:14

There is a story about Darius, the king of Persia, who gave a great feast for 127 of his governors and famous people. Four men of the king's guard entered into a contest at the request of Darius, the king of Persia, to speak a word or sentence that would impress the king and impress those present. The one who spoke the most powerful word was to be given a necklace of gold and a place of honor at the king's court.
One man stood to speak a strong word. He said, "Wine is strongest. Wine is strongest." Then he proceeded to give his case for the reason "wine is strongest." He told of the influence that wine has on the lives of people. He told of the influence that wine has on the homes of the nation and on the land of Persia. He presented his case and shouted again, "Wine is strongest."
A second stood saying, "The king is strongest. The king is strongest." Then he proceeded, with eloquence, to tell why he thought the king was the strongest. He told of the influence the king had upon the lives of all the people. He explained how, at the king's command, thousands of people obeyed and how the entire empire was affected by just the command of the king. He shouted in closing, "The king is the strongest." 
The third man stood and shouted these words, "Woman is the strongest!" Then he proceeded with eloquence to explain the influence that woman has on man, the fact that man has lived, sacrificed, and died for a woman and then he shouted again, "Woman is strongest." 
And then the fourth stood and shouted his sentence. He said, "Truth is strongest!" By the time he had finished his argument for truth, the great crowd of people at the feast of Darius were shouting, "Great is truth! Great is truth! Truth is greater than wine. Truth is greater than the king. Truth is greater than woman. Greatest is the truth!" The winner of the strongest statement was that member of the king's guard who shouted, "Truth is strongest!"

And we would all acclaim the same.  Why then does Isaiah say that truth is fallen in the street?  Because at this time in the nation of Israel truth was not being honored.  Their courts were perverted and full lies.  Their decisions were unprincipled and corrupt.  There was dearth of wisdom and integrity.

Our governments today are facing the same such dearth.  Voices are crying out that are not truthful, but because they are loud, they are heard.  Man will follow the crowd – the loudest voice.  We need to pray for those in government that they will hear the truth not only of the Gospel, but also of the way of life.  Pray that truth will be elevated over man’s life choices and justice and integrity be restored to our nations.

Pray for your government today.  There are those striving to fight the battle for prevalence of truth.  They need our prayers.  And we need to be listening to truth – the truth of God’s Word – over the noise of the crowd!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week Forty-Two - Thoughts


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  Jeremiah 29:11

When it comes to thinking, the Lord outdoes us all.  Psalm 139 tells us that he thinks of us more often than we can count…more than the grains of sand.  Here in Jeremiah, God’s Word tells us what God is thinking toward his people.  He is thinking good.

Sometimes we get the idea that God is a big baddy in the sky with a club ready to thump his unruly children.  We hear, “God will get you for that.”  And we imagine that all-seeing eye watching what we do and standing in judgment.  I guess a portion of that picture may be true. We will stand in judgment before God for what we do, but we are not in judgment because God has willed us to be punished.  We are there by our own choices.

God looks down upon us in love and desires only the best for us.  He wants us to succeed. He wants us to know His love and acceptance.  He has good plans for us and wants us to reach the end with a fulfilled and satisfied life.

Coming to grips with the idea that God is for us changes how we approach life and how we approach God.  It gives us a positive outlook and a confidence that comes from knowing God is on our side.  Paul puts it like this:  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  (Romans 8:33)

How do you see God?  Does sin in your life need to be addressed?  Sin will taint our view of God.  Better to take it to Him now!  Do you see Him as loving?  John 16:27 tells us, “…the Father himself loveth you…”.  Take time to meditate on this truth – God loves you, thinks good about you and is for you.  How might this change the way you approach your day?


“I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” 
Psalm 119:59

O, be careful little feet where you go,
O, be careful little feet where you go,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little feet where you go.”

This is one of the first children’s songs I learned in Sunday school.  I used to sing it over and over and think about what it meant.  It teaches that making good choices is important.  Our feet, our eyes, our ears, our mouths, all are avenues which need to be considered or thought about.  God cares what we are doing with our lives.

I remember times in my life where I had to stop and take stock of where I was and what I was pursuing.  Sometimes it meant changing friends.  Sometimes it meant saying no to opportunities or temptations.  Sometimes it meant waiting on God instead of forging ahead.  But those were all pivotal times - times when my path changed direction for the better.

Self-evaluation is necessary in the Christian life.  Thinking about our direction, or our attitude, or our motivation is imperative for spiritual growth and consecration.  The Psalmist David gives us an example as he invited the Lord into the process.  Psalm 139:23, 24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” David opened himself for divine evaluation.

Might be a scary thought.  Might cause us some real soul searching and self-denial.  But it will be well worth it. As we turn our feet to the direction of God’s Word and instruction we are bound to find a greater communion, fellowship with our Lord and a place of assurance and blessing.  You up to it?


“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
 Psalm 94:19

My mind can get into a whirl.  Like on a roller coaster, so many thoughts are screaming for attention that I just don’t know which one to pay attention to first!  Pressures of the job, family issues, and self can get into conflict and cause me to have to just stop and try to sort it all out.

I have found that whirling is not of God.  God is ordered and systematic.  He doesn’t get into a flap.  He doesn’t get too much on his plate.  He has it all under control. 

Oswald Chambers wrote, “I will never think of anything my Father will forget, so why should I worry?”  This amazing me.  I will never think of anything God will forget.  Oh, but I can do a powerful lot of thinking!  And worrying! But when I come back to this thought I realize that God already has it all figured out.  I can simply relax.  This brings comfort to my soul!

Comfort also comes from rhema – God’s Word alive in my heart.  Scripture brings peace and assurance.  Scriptures that God has used over and over in my life to bring me back into line.

Comfort also comes as I see God’s Hand at work in my life.  Just a spoken word from a friend, or a kindness done will cause my thoughts to cease and bring me back into focus on the God who loves me and delights my soul.

Whirling is a sure sign that I am out of control or trying to be in control.  I need to just stop my whirling and come back to the centre – God - where I am sure to find the comfort and joy my soul so desires.

Are you whirling?  Allowing your mind to just spin and spin to no end?  Why not get off the roller coaster and take a seat with God!


“The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” 
Psalm 94:11

God knows our thoughts.  Poor God.  He knows that the thought of man’s heart is evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)  Even with our best intentions, our hearts wander into evil thoughts and imaginations.  Romans 3 tells us that none of us naturally seek after God.  None of us are righteous.

“Oh”, but you say, “I am a Christian.  I do seek God.  I don’t think evil.”  Really?  Oswald Chambers wrote, “Beware of the piety that denies the natural life, it is a fraud.”  Self-righteousness is not God honouring.  Man, even redeemed man, can imagine and desire evil.  The difference is that with Christ, we do not have to yield to our sinful thoughts.  We have His resurrection power to give us strength to overcome and to control our thoughts.

Vanity means empty or void.  Sometimes we confuse it with meaning only focus on makeup, fashion, or things like that.  But the vanity of man’s thoughts goes much deeper than the simple outward appearance.

Let’s paraphrase the verse. “God knows our thoughts.  Our thoughts are of no value.  They are empty and void compared to God’s thoughts.”  So, with all our great thinking ability, better than the animals or anything God created, we are still simple creatures.

There is no room for pride here. No room for exaltation of man.  No room for “smartness” or super intellect.  Oh, we might be able to figure out some things in science and mathematics, but we will never attain to God’s wisdom.

When I think about this, with my small mind.  I am humbled.  It brings me to a place of submission to an all-wise God.  Where does it bring you?


“The thought of foolishness is sin…”  Proverbs 24:9

Because the sin nature lusteth to envy and dwells in desire to live opposed to God, man has a natural bent toward foolishness.  Foolishness is not only an outward action, but also a case of the inward thought processes.  Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child…”
First there needs to be a determination between foolishness, which is sin, and foolishness, which is innocent.  The writer of Proverbs was referring to foolishness in the form of devising evil against another, not innocent joyful play.
Foolishness starts with an inward thought and leads to outward actions and consequences.  We experience foolish thoughts toward other drivers, people who hurt us, or those we find difficult.  Before we realize it, we say things about what we’d like to do to retaliate.  Rarely do we take it further, but sin is already at the door and we need to take it to God in repentance.
II Cor 10:5 instructs us to cast the thought away and bring it unto obedience.  We are responsible for our thoughts.  Every thought is to be obedient.  Every thought needs to be weighed by Scripture.  Mind control is a life-long exercise in obedience.
Is it possible?  Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”  So, according to this verse, “yes!”  God knows our thoughts before we think them, so surely by the power of the Spirit and the Word working within us He would be able to direct our thoughts as we yield control to Him.  The question is, “Are we too foolish to yield?”