Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Week Forty-Three - Blessed are They that Mourn

Beside the Well

            Over 400 years ago Jeremiah Burroughs did a lengthy study on the Beatitudes.  The expose quarried out precious nuggets of truth that reveal a depth of thought rarely seen by the writers of today.  One cannot miss the correlations as Burroughs’ observations are as pertinent to the current reader as they were to the hearers of old.
            The division and upheaval caused by Brexit, the US presidential election, the UN and the instability of North Korea have created reactions that are openly revealing man’s sinful state.  Burroughs challenges the Christian to not mourn only over his sin but also over the sins of others.
            He says we are to mourn for them because it grieves us to see their sin and because in truth they are striking out at our Father.  We should mourn because we see how they are hurting themselves and because sin increases evil in the world.  We should also mourn because their sin is a visual reminder of the root of sin still in our own hearts.  Instead of repelling us, the sins of others should create a spark in our hearts whereby we pray more earnestly and desire to give them the gospel—to pull them out of the fire.
            The attitude with which we view the lost reveals what is in our hearts.  Mourning for them, praying for them, caring about their eternity reveals our sincerity and belief in God’s longsuffering and willingness to save.  We must be praying for them and reaching out with the truth.  We need not have a condemning attitude.  They are condemned already.  Remember?  Ours is a call to lift up Christ and draw men to Him.
            Burroughs adds two more thoughts about why we should be mourning for the sins of others.  It frees us from their guilt, and it makes us tools for healing.   Then, he reminds the reader of these two promises: In the time of public calamity, those that mourn will be hidden (Jeremiah 15:11).  And, our mourning will cease after their judgment is complete.
            I don’t know what political upheaval was happening during the time of Burroughs, but his last eight reasons to mourn for others could have been written today.
            We are to mourn for the great injustice in this world.  Truth is fallen in the street. (Isaiah 59:11-15)
            We are to mourn that Christ is no more embraced among us.  Man will not have God to reign over him. (Romans  9:1-3)
            We are to mourn because society is divided.  A house divided cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)
            We are to mourn because of the abuses of liberty.  (Romans 1:28-32)
            We are to mourn because a spirit of unthankfulness reigns. (2 Timothy 3:2)
            We are to mourn for the scandals and stumbling blocks in politics and society that mar truth.  (1 Timothy 2:1)
            We are to mourn for good men who are guilty of miscarrying justice.  (1 Timothy 2:2-4)
            We are to mourn for a spirit of revenge and rebellion that is driving society—a spirit that cries out because it cannot have its way.  (Judges 21:25)
            Instead of just throwing up our hands and giving up, we might take one more thought home with us.  Burroughs wrote over 400 years ago.  His society survived.  Ours may survive as well, but the outcome will most likely be proportionate to the number of prayer warriors who will mourn for sin and keep sinners before the throne.

Burroughs, Jeremiah, Burroughs on the Beatitudes, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 3505 5th Avenue, Beaver Falls, PA 15010, AD 1659, page 60-65.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week Forty-Two - Ready for the Breeze

Beside the Well
            I came to my Bible reading today and began to wonder, “Why am I reading?”  Am I here only to meet the goal of reading through my Bible again?  I have read it through year by year for several years.  Today, it seemed like a habit. I know I still find things that rejoice my heart, challenge my thoughts, and convict my soul. 
            Why am I reading?  Because every read is an exploration, a digging for nuggets, a practice in consistency, and because this is God speaking to me.  So—back to Ezekiel.
            Read my chapters.  No big sparks there.  Read Burroughs on the Beatitudes.  Interesting as he wrote on why Christians are persecuted in this world.  Okay.  Then, picked up my Spurgeon devotional and, oh, my!
            Ready for the Breeze.  “If I cannot pray, let me read a chapter.  It may be that while I hear God speak to me I shall learn how to speak to Him.  If in my private reading I feel no unction upon the word, let me go forth and attend the meeting of the saints; perhaps God intends to bless me by ear, or in company with others.  If this fails, let me go and visit the sick, or perform some deed of charity.  Perhaps in helping others I may find succor for my own soul!  God has often saved a man from freezing by setting him to rub a brother into warmth and life.  If all this shall not have succeeded let me hold converse with some choice servant of God; and if this should fail me, let me go to my knees again, or begin to sing a psalm, or tell to others what I have experienced of God’s love in time past…Come then, brother, tack about.  Complain not of the want of heavenly wind, rather complain of want of consecrated energy.”
            Now my heart is encouraged.  God spoke—“hang in there, Gail.  Keep your sail pointed toward the breeze, where it comes is not the matter; that it comes make all the difference.”  God speaks in many ways.  He definitely prepared my heart to receive this message!

            So, if you find your Bible reading going flat, read anyway.  But don’t stop there, look to find the wind of the Spirit and set your sail with consecrated energy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week Forty-One - Precious Sharing

Beside the Well

            That might be handy, but I much prefer a personal touch.  I shared a book through my Facebook page a few weeks ago that was a blessing to read.  It is Gospel Centered Family, by Tim Chester and Ed Moll.  It was a free EBook to download from The Good Book Company UK.  Absolutely devoured it.  It was full of solid instruction.  Hopefully, many saw it and read or ordered the book.
            I also put up a link to a beautiful blog for younger Christian women 18+, Tirzah.  ( I read several of their entries and appreciated the down to earth advice and the lovely manner of the blog/magazine.
            Now, that’s all great, but one of the nicest shares I have had this month was a little book shared with me by a dear friend, a small paperback entitled Love Story, by Glen Scrivener about the Easter story and fairytales. 
            “What?” you ask. 
            Yes, Easter and fairytales.
            The author moves through the Easter story to show the hero, the problem, and the happily ever after.  I think it would be a great book to give out around Easter time as a witnessing tool, but also, it is a good book to read.  Let me share with you a few things that drew my attention.
            Since I have heard lately much about how people perceive God, this paragraph jumped out at me.  “I don’t know how you see God.  If people believe in God today, they tend to think of him as an impersonal Force.  Or he’s a Sergeant Major in the sky who barks out orders.  Or he’s a Heavenly Slave Driver setting us to work.  Or he’s a Moral Policeman, investigating our performance.  Or he’s a Cosmic Headmaster saying, ‘Must try harder.’  But if we’ve inherited any of those ideas about God, it hasn’t been from the Bible.” (p. 14)
            Since God is love and the initiator of it, it is paramount that we get the right perspective for love to blossom.
            The author then went on to examine Jesus saying, “What is Jesus like?  He is a million miles from the God who rearranges stars to make us bow.  He is the God who gets down on his knees to deal with our mess.”  (p. 26) The chapter is entitled, Love Stoops.  God, who created the universe and who loves us completely, stoops to show us the extent of His love.
            And one more tidbit: Love Suffers.  Jesus prayed at Gethsemane for the cup to pass from him if at all possible.  The cup is illustrative of the depth of sin and poison for which we are accountable.  It is not Jesus’ cup; it is ours.  Yet, He is the one lining up to drink it for us.
            “He does not want to drink this cup.  What a different cup this is from the cup of wine which, earlier in the night, Jesus had offered to his disciples.  That cup was full of forgiveness; this cup is full of judgment.  That cup signals life; this cup brings death.  That cup Jesus offers to us; this cup he drinks himself…The truth is that it is not possible for the cup to be taken away unless Jesus drinks it.” (p. 37)
            Thanks, Kate, for sharing such a beautiful book—a true story keepsake.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Week Forty - The Provider

Beside the Well
            Being raised on a farm in Southwest Missouri, I grew up without a lot of class or experience in high society.  My only claim to fame is that I am a child of the King!
            As I read Charles Spurgeon’s devotions the other day, he took off on a description that delighted my soul.  Please allow me to share it with you.
            “What, indeed, would most men give if they could say, ‘The Queen herself carved [meat] for me, and was most anxious that I should be well supplied?’  But each believer has the Lord himself for his Provider.  He loads our table and fills our cup.  Providence is no other than God providing.  He measures out our joys, weighs our sorrows, appoints our labours, and selects our trials.  There is no morsel on the saint’s plate which is not of the Lord’s carving, unless he has been so foolish as to put forth his hand unto iniquity…Is it not delightful to know that our Father’s hand broke for us the bread which we have eaten this day: that the Savior’s own fingers mingled our cup and that every blessing has come direct from God’s own table?  A sacred perfume is on my raiment and in my chamber, for thou hast prepared both for me.  And this would be true if I wore rags and lay in a dungeon, in sore sickness. ‘I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinketh upon me’ (Psalm 40:17) How can he be poor and needy of whom it is said that the LORD thinketh upon him?” (p 251)
            What more need I than to receive from the hand of my heavenly Father that which He would portion to me?  Indeed, He is my portion. (Lamentations 3:24)
            And, how beautiful and humbling is it to consider that our heavenly Father thinketh on us?  Truly, we could recite an abundance of Scriptures confirming his love and care.  Matthew 6:8 “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  Read on through Matthew 6 and Jesus assures us God will clothe us and feed us.  In Matthew 10 Jesus reveals the Father’s love saying we are of more value than many sparrows and even the hairs of our head are numbered.  Our Creator/Provider is intrinsically interested and involved in our lives.
            As Charles Spurgeon said, “Is it not delightful to know that our Father’s hand broke for us the bread which we have eaten this day: that the Savior’s own fingers mingled our cup and that every blessing has come direct from God’s own table?”
            In the end, it doesn’t matter where I grew up, or how much of a hillbilly I might still be.  For, under the hand of my Father, there is “a sacred perfume is on my raiment and in my chamber, for thou hast prepared both for me.”

Illustrations and Meditations or Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden by C.H. Spurgeon