Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week Forty-Four - Through

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” 
Isaiah 43:2 
Through – it refers to a place or a portion of time.  It has the idea of during or while you are in this place. 
God doesn’t rosy up life.  He is straightforward about the things we will face.  We will face difficulties.  Here they are described as waters, rivers and fire.
Vine writes, “When circumstances tend to cause anxiety, and the threatening attitude of things might give rise to natural apprehensions, it is good, not only to recall the gracious dealings of our God, but to hear His reminders of what He has wrought on our behalf in the past, of His inalienable presence with us, and the unthwartable fulfillment of His promises, as in the present passage.”
In Psalms 23 we are assured that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”…..he is still there to comfort me.  Difficult times will come, but we are children of promise.  Let us live so while we are in this place.
The other side of through is that because it is a place and a time it will also change.  We do not stay permanently in waters, rivers, fire and shadows.  We come through to the other side.
Are you going through something difficult right now?  Know that He is with you.  He will comfort you and the light of his love may be the very thing that is casting the shadow over you.  Look up to the Light.  He will lead you safely through.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…Through faith also Sara herself received strength…Through faith he kept the Passover…through faith subdued kingdoms, and these all, having obtained a good report through faith….”  Hebrews 11:3, 11, 28, 33, 39
This word appears several times in reference to the saints in Hebrews chapter eleven.  In this usage it is connected with the word faith.  “Through faith.”  It means to have conviction.  These Old Testament saints acted upon the conviction that God was the Creator and He was fully able.  This conviction brought them to obey the Law and it brought them victory in battle.
Stedman makes a point I believe we sometimes miss when we think about faith – “But I hope you know that faith is derived, not from anything in itself, but from its object. This is a source of great confusion among many Christians. People are always saying to me, "If I only had enough faith, I could do so and so, and such and such," as though faith were a commodity sold by the pound; as though all you have to do is buy another pound of faith and add it to the store you have now, and you could do great things for God.
But the quantity of faith is of very little significance. Jesus said so: "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed," you could move mountains. (Matt. 17:20) It is not quantity that is important in faith. It is quality; it is what your faith is fastened to. What is the object of your faith? The strength of faith is directly related to the strength of what you believe in. What are you believing in? Who are you believing in? What kind of a person is he?”
That is conviction – “…derived, not from anything in itself, but from its object.” If our conviction is placed in Him alone, we will be living by faith and acting through faith.
What conviction are you living by?  What is the object of your faith?

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations…”  I Peter 1:6  
This definition is yet another aspect.  It does not mean a place and time and holds no promise of ending.  It means that we are simply in the problem.  It could read, “in heaviness in manifold temptations”, or, “in heaviness by manifold temptations.”
Surgeon took this text apart.  He suffered with what he described as heaviness – a depression, a feeling of heaviness or breaking down of the spirit.  He wrote, “Ah! beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, "If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;" and what is that but saying, "If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?" It is just how you feel, that is, after all, the pith and marrow of your affliction. It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very fester of the soreness of God's scourging-"the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better."
He goes on to give the following reasons why heaviness of spirit is an absolute need in our lives. 
1)  If we were not in heaviness during our troubles we would not know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, for he too experienced heaviness  My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death”…”and he began to be very heavy”. 
2) If we felt no heaviness in tribulations we would grow too proud and self-sufficient. 
3) Discipline. In heaviness we often learn lessons that we never would learn otherwise  "Ah!" said Luther, "affliction is the best book in my library;" and let me add, the best leaf in the book of affliction is that blackest of all the leaves, the leaf called heaviness, when the spirit sinks within us, and we cannot endure as we could wish.”  Spurgeon
4)  and, Spurgeon writes – “this heaviness is of essential use to a Christian, if he would do good to others. Ah! there are a great many Christian people that I was going to say I should like to see afflicted-but I will not say so much as that; I should like to see them heavy in spirit; if it were the Lord's will that they should be bowed down greatly, I would not express a word of regret; for a little more sympathy would do them good; a little more power to sympathize would be a precious boon to them, and even if it were purchased by a short journey through a burning, fiery furnace, they might not rue the day afterwards in which they had been called to pass through the flame.  There are none so tender as those who have been skinned themselves. Those who have been in the chamber of affliction know how to comfort those who are there. Do not believe that any man will become a physician unless he walks the hospitals; and I am sure that no one will become a divine, or become a comforter, unless he lies in the hospital as well as walks through it, and has to suffer himself. God cannot make ministers-and I speak with reverence of his Holy Name-he cannot make a Barnabas except in the fire.”
Is God trying to do a work in your life through troubles?  Is he trying to make a Barnabas out of you?  Then “greatly rejoice” in this season and learn all you can of His comforts and allow this bruise to make you better!

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Corinthians 15:57
This side of the word means the ground or reason by which something is or is not done.  We use the phrases, “on account of” or “because of” and that is exactly the definition.  We have victory on account of Christ or because of Christ.
Understanding and learning to lean upon this truth brings us to a steadfast assurance.  We know that no matter what we go through we have victory through Christ.
Not only do we have victory, but also peace.  Romans 5:1  “…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
We have joy.  Romans 5:11  “…we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
We have life.  Romans 6:11 & 23  “…alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”  “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
He is the reason we can solidly rest our hope and faith.  He is the foundation.  He is the eminent source.
From this Cornerstone we can make godly decisions and serve the Lord sincerely.  God must believe the same because the next verse, I Corinthians 15:58 begins with the word – therefore – because of what has just been said we can – “ ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Victory, therefore, depends upon where we are placing our faith.  It isn’t dependent upon our works for the Lord, but on account of the Lord.  He gives us the victory!

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”  I John 4:9
We live through him!  On account of Him!  He is the one who deserves the credit!  His sacrifice made it possible for us to have eternal life. 
It reminds me of the wonderful statement of Paul in Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
In the little Methodist church where I grew up they sang a song I have only ever heard there.  It echoes this same truth.
All that I am or hope to be,
O Son of God I owe to thee,
For though hast bought me; I am thine,
And by Thy mercy Thou art Mine.
Thy blessed cross has sealed my peace,
Thy sorrows make my own to cease;
Thy power has cleansed me from all sin,
Thy presence keeps my conscience clean.
Thy cruel wounds my own have healed;
Thy broken heart my pardon sealed;
Thy death, O Christ, means life for me,
A life for all eternity.
Thy mercy sought me, Thy love has bought me,
Thy grace has taught me to believe.
Then, in believing, Thy peace receiving,
Now in Thee only do I live.            Austin Miles
Praise God – we live through Him!

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