“Why Do the Heathen Rage?”

I am going out on a limb with this post. It is not my nature to tackle controversial issues.

This comes in response to the recent news of a young man who was killed in his attempt to share the gospel on an isolated island in the Indian Ocean. I do not know all the details, first learning of the event in a fellow blogger’s post accompanied by a video of the island. In the video is the scene of the inhabitants on the beach of North Sentinel island which the reporter called “wildmen.” This video left in me a sad image and the thoughts that I write here.

How different is the majority of people in any land to this small band of isolated people?

How few welcome people they do not know?

How hostile are most people to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

People, in general, are ignorant of the good news of Jesus Christ and are antagonistic to those who want to share this good news.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3

Psalm 1 describes two types of people, the righteous and the ungodly. In Psalm 2, the heathen are the ungodly, described in Psalm 1; and the righteous are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord, Psalm 1:2. Kings of the earth and rulers are described as heathen. There are Biblical references to men as beasts.

“So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” Psalm 73:22

Where is True Civilization?
How different is the scene of those islanders and others who demonstrate in the streets of our nation in anger of whatever comes against them?

How different are they than we are when someone disagrees with us? Only the laws of our land and God’s power of mercy keep us from destroying each other.

Why do we lock our doors? We live in fear of strangers who may come and harm us or take what is ours.

History of the Sentinelese
There seems to be in the history of the Sentinelese a time when their people were kidnapped. There is the story that centuries ago some were taken to another country where the two oldest died, then the others were taken back to the island. Imagine their fear passed from generation to generation. Does this not give us some understanding of their behavior against outsiders?

We cannot condone this savagery, but we do well to learn from this event.

Only one person has ever brought the gospel to an antagonistic people, died in the process, and rose from the grave ~ and His death by His own people who did not accept His good news.

The church leadership needs to train God’s people. There are many para-church organizations – even churches – that are encouraging young people to consider missionary work. Many have the will and the zeal, but not the skill. Jesus trained and sent His disciples in companies of two.

The church used to be the catalyst, ordaining and training for the mission field. Taking the gospel to an illiterate people is a dangerous endeavor, it is a work that requires counseling and training, in addition to faith and prayer.

Please do not attack me for what I have written. I am not criticizing this young man, but believe he was doing what he thought he should do to share the good news. I am just sharing what I believe the Lord has put in my heart, and hopefully, give us things to consider when we think of sharing the gospel outside our own culture and time zone.

A Technological Thought
Another thought, which may seem a bit whimsical: We are not Christ. We either need bullet-proof vests or to pray and brainstorm some way to air-drop something to get and hold the attention of those we want to hear the gospel. Someone with the funds could build a robot that looks like the Islanders and program it to transcribe the gospel into their language.

I pray that this young man’s life is not a loss; that the Lord would show us what we need to reach the unreachable for His glory. What a joy it would be to see our modern technology used in such a way as this. Even this might be dangerous to their immune systems ~ win them to Christ and wipe them out?

Gracious Father, we thank you for sending your Son and for your Holy Spirit who reveals Him to us as our Lord and Savior. We ask you to show your church how to counsel and train those whom you call to the mission field. We ask that the Chau family know your comfort and peace and be drawn closer to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

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Words of Life ~ ABLE

ABLE may be one of the most powerful words in the English language. In God’s Word, it conveys meaning applicable to God in His greatness and power, and shows the weakness and utter dependence of man. This word, from Words of Life ~ A – Z ~ the Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian, dovetails into Weakness and Meeknessour last chapter in Beyond a Mere Christianity,  .

From ABHOR, to ABIDE, we come to another of our list of Words of Life ~ ABLE

In The Old Testament
ABLE in the Concordance H320
defines the word (yaòkoòl  yaw-kole’)
A primitive root; to be able, literally (can, could) or morally (may, might):

Two examples of ABLE in the Old Testament:
The first relates to man’s inability, then compared to God’s ability.

In Numbers 11:14, Moses admitted to God, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.”

In Daniel 3:17, we have the words of the three Hebrews about to be put in the fiery furnace.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”

In Daniel 6:20, the king speaks to Daniel after the Lord delivered him from the lions.
“And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

In the New Tesament
ABLE in the Concordance G1410
“defines the word (dunamai doo’-nam-ahee)
Of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible:—be able, can (do, + -not), could,
may, might, be possible, be of power.

The power of God is defined in the following references.

References to men who not able.

Not able to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28)
“many shall not be able to enter in at the strait gate (Luke 13:24).
“adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist wisdom ( Luke 21:15).
“no man is able to pluck us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29).
“nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
“no man is able to open the book  (Revelation 5:3) “who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17)

References to what God’s Word is able to do.

“the engrafted word is able to save our souls” (James 1:21).
“the holy scriptures able to make wise” (2 Timothy 3:15).
“word of grace, which is able to build you up and to an inheritance (Acts 20:32).

References to what God enables us to do.

able ministers of the new testament” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
able to comprehend the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).
“able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).

References to what God is able to do.

“able of stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9)
able to heal a blind man (Matthew 9:28).
able to perform what He promises (Romans 4:21).
able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:21).
able to keep that which is committed unto HIm against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians 3:20

Gracious Father, able and willing to make yourself known, even if through the stones you created, we praise you for all power that belongs to you. We thank you for enabling us as your children to comprehend with all saints the love of Christ for us, enabling us to stand against the wiles of the devil to witness of your promises, your presence and power of your Holy Spirit among us; to keep us and to present us faultless through Christ before the presence of your glory ~ all for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

    Scripture Tune Jude 1:24-25

 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
v

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Sleeplessness

Being awake at 2:30 this morning is a good time for me to write about the subject of sleeplessness.  I was in bed since 10:00 P.M. so I have slept. After 78 years, I am experienced and have learned to live with the occasional nights when it is difficult to fall asleep; or when I wake up early in the morning.

How we handle each of these episodes depends on how we view this state in our lives. At times, when younger, there were many different things going on that kept me awake; and I would worry, not only about the things, but about the sleeplessness.

I feel led to write about this dilemma. There seems to be an epidemic. There are sleep centers available for this problem.

First, I believe that it is a result of the condition of our world, which is enough to keep everybody awake.  Maybe we should all stay awake and pray for God to “rend the heavens, and come down; as the melting fire burneth; and make His name known among the adversaries” (Isaiah 66:1).

Our culture should not, however, keep us, as God’s children, awake and anxious.

Sleeplessness should not be the norm for the Christian.  Going through bouts of insomnia has been a learning and growing experience for me.  God’s word and Spirit have become more powerful in and through me during these times.  They have strengthened me to survive and thrive even when I have not had a good night’s sleep.  Many mornings I had to accompany with piano for a worship service after only a little sleep.  Colossians 1:9-14 became real as I meditated on Paul’s prayer for those of the early church.  He prayed that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Verse 10 in bold print was the word I needed for the day.  Sleep may have sufficed for me to serve, but sleeplessness was a means of grace to lay hold of God’s power. I have experienced more strength from Him when I needed it, than from a regular night’s sleep. 

I can speak here from a time when I was younger, plagued with insomnia; before my conversion.  My whole life was planned around my own desires.  Things were not working in my life as I had hoped.  There was no peace in my heart; sleeplessness was simply my nighttime restlessness.  The days were not much better than the nights.

The Whole Picture
In this short treatise I will attempt, by God’s grace, to address causes and solutions to this problem.  Not being a professional counselor or physician I speak only as I have learned.

How we sleep depends on how we live.  How we live does not depend on how we sleep.  Many excuses come from our not getting enough sleep.  Enough is not the same for every person. Some do not require as much sleep as others.

We should not be envious of those who can sleep anytime, anywhere, at the drop of a hat.  They are blessed in some ways that we are not.  But, we may, in our being awake, be blessed in other ways.  Christ may return while we are awake. Those who are sleeping may miss His first call.

So, at this point, let me encourage you, the reader, to look at your state of sleeplessness as God’s means of doing something in your life that you would not experience, otherwise.  God has a purpose for your insomnia, as for all things.  For the Christian, “everything works together for good, for those who love Him.  For those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His dear Son  (Romans 8:28-29). God speaks to every dilemma in our lives.  It is all part of His working for our good and for His glory.

Awakeness and Awareness
Remembering that there is purpose in our being awake or sleeping, let’s look at some possible reasons for our not being able to sleep when we want to.  My list over the years have included occasional indigestion or illness, busy schedule, uncertainty, difficulty in relationships, finances, new plans, grief, overstimulation, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, or other unconfessed sins.  Any of these, and others that you may know, easily displace the peace that God gives us as His children, in Christ.

Our awakeness may be the time for awareness of what we need to address in our daily living. God speaks in all ages and stages. We should ask for His wisdom; for what He wants us to know at every stage.  If we are not sleeping, we ask Him to make us aware of what we need.  If we cannot change what needs to be changed we pray that He bring the changes; or enable us to accept what cannot be changed.

We can break down my list and look at everything separately; but we will soon come to the same conclusion.  In everything God has His plans for us.  Awareness of what is keeping us awake is the first step that brings us to the Lord.  Presenting these of which we are aware to Him, wrestling in prayer, we will soon be tired and resting in Him.  Peace comes when all is given to Him.

Awareness of His Presence
It may be that these times are God’s planning for you to experience His presence. In the stillness and quietness of the night there is a solitude with which most people are not acquainted.   It is this sanctuary that God uses when we are not otherwise silent before Him. God can sometimes meet us here, when we are nor available during the day.  It may be to teach us not only to rely on Him for all things, His plans, His will, His way, but to establish a relationship that carries through the day and night.

Many nights I wake and wait for His presence; to know what special blessings He wants to give; for songs in the night come, especially when I am at peace with Him.

I have learned that all that I am is His, my waking and my sleeping.  He never sleeps so we can have that sweet fellowship anytime.  When I stopped fighting the sleeplessness, stopped counting sheep, and starting looking for Him to speak to me I no longer was concerned about sleeping.

Practical Habits
As I have gotten older I realize that patterns make a difference in our days and nights.  Even if we are at peace, trusting God in all things, in obedience of faith in all that we know; how we plan for sleep helps.  I do not sleep well when my evening has been hectic.  Overstimulation of any kind, talking on the phone for an extended time, caught up in a project, or anything unusual, will keep me from sleeping.  Reading God’s promises, prayer before bedtime and the review of a hymn or Psalm that we will sing next Lord’s Day is part of worship before bedtime.

Overeating at dinner or going to bed on an empty stomach are not good habits for me.  What I eat makes a difference.  By this age I know what my body will tolerate. I know my limitations of food and drink.

A dark room seems to be best.  Light tends to wakefulness.  It is similar to prayer, in that we are shutting out the world and any artificial light.  Jerry has always gone to bed earlier, and I get to bed as early as possible.  Establishing a regular schedule makes  it is easier to get up early, even if I don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Even now, I may lie back down and have a nap before the dawn of this new day, Lord willing.  Either way, my day is dependent on His strength, power and glorious might ~ His Spirit in me ~ “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” When we truly understand and experience this truth, sleep does not matter ~ only Christ.

Precious heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and sustainer of all living things, so make Christ real in our hearts and lives that we rejoice in Him, even in our sleeplessness. In every waking moment, make us to know your presence, use all our time to fill us with your grace. Wrap us in the glory of the one who lived for us, died for us, was raised for us, and now reigns for us, continuing to teach us. Help us to remember this life as preparation for eternity with you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit of love, joy and peace, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Grace, and Grace Alone

Grace, and grace alone,
could save a wretch like me.
I could not die for my own sins.
Christ had to die for me.
A thousand deaths would not atone
for my eternity;
Christ’s blood, and His alone,
bought my sanctity.

 His light, and His alone,
shined deep within my soul.
The darkness of my heart
was readily exposed.
His Word, and His alone,
could speak new life in me.
My sin is great, but greater still,
His grace has set me free.

His love, and His alone,
drew me to His Son;
In covenant with Him,
to be His very own.
In goodness, and in His alone,
He brought me to repent,
To turn, to trust, to follow Jesus,
whom He had sent.

His power, and His alone,
gives life beyond my dreams;
Life in Christ, the life of grace,
according to His means.
His glory, and His alone,
suffices as an end.
His purpose in heaven and on earth,
for Him; for me. Amen.

(This poem is the result of waking this morning  around 5:00, hearing the steady refreshing rain that has been needful for so long.  The next thing that came to mind was God’s grace, and after a few minutes I got up and began to write. Following are the Biblical references that apply.  I pray that those who read may use one or both to discover and refresh your heart in the truth of God’s grace and His glory.)

Grace ~ Ephesians 2:7-9; 4:7; 2:1-4 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20
Christ’s Blood ~ 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20

His Light ~ 2 Corinthians 4:-6-7; Genesis 6:5
His Word ~1 Peter 1:3, 23-25; James 1:18; Romans 5:20-21

His Love ~ 1 John 4: 9-10; 1 John:1-3; John :44-45; Ephesians 1:4-5
His Goodness ~ Romans 2: 4; Psalms 107:8; John 17:3

His Power ~ Ephesians 3:19; Romans 8:1-4
His Glory ~ Psalm 73:24; Romans 11:36; 2 Cor. 3:18;Colossians 3:1-4

F.R. 2012
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Launch Out

Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.  And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.” Luke 5:4-6

A story is told of a football coach on the sidelines of a very important game screaming to his players, “Give Willie the ball.” After several such calls without their response, he called time out.

As his players gathered around him, he asked, “Didn’t you hear me tell you to give Willie the ball?”

“Yes, coach, but Willie doesn’t want the ball.”

Challenges of the Christian Life
How many of us, when called to accept a challenge in our Christian life, often refuse, and so, never know the blessings of growing spiritually. When things seem too difficult, out of our comfort zone, we miss the opportunity of serving where the Lord wants us, or seeing His glory in uncharted waters and receiving the benefits He has there for us. It may mean that we serve Him where we are, but with a greater diligence and obedience to His Word. Not all are called to serve as missionaries in a foreign country, but to grow in our relationship with Him, to know and love Him more ~ to go deeper in fellowship with Him through His Word and His Spirit. It is in this relationship that we are prepared to serve Him wherever He places us.

When we think we have done all that needs to be done, our Lord promises that where He directs us He will be with us, having already planned the outcome.Launching out into the deep is where we find exceeding abundantly more that we can ask or imagine by His power working in us (Ephesians 3:20).

Gracious Father, forgive us for settling for the minimal Christian life. Work in our hearts, by the power of your Holy Spirit to hear the call of our Lord Jesus to follow Him past the mundane things of this life, to deny self as we take up our own cross to find the deep things that are hidden in Him. Enable us to plunge into the depths of your love and find the blessings you have for us. Let nothing hold us back from full surrender to your call and your holy will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Power and Mercy

Power without mercy is like
a locomotive without brakes.

It destroys everything in its path;

And eventually destroys itself.

Power With Mercy
Power with mercy brings things together, unites, and bears the fruit of its own working. Such was the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); to restore what His Father had created in their image.

All God’s creatures have power ~ power that was given when He created the first man. It is a latent power in each of us. How we use it depends on who harnesses it. Jesus Christ gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in and follow Him so as to turn the power within us by His grace, to live in Him, and through Him. The fruit of His grace through us is mercy toward others, even those who continue under the power of the enemy.

Paul prayed for the first Christians:
“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, (are) being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 1:16-17

being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14

Dear Father in heaven, as you watch your creatures here on earth, please have mercy upon us. Rend the heavens and come down; as the melting fire burneth, make your name known among the adversaries. Fill us with your Spirit of grace; unite us as your children that we may be light in this darkness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Breakthrough

In February, Jerry and I were waiting in the podiatrist’s exam room for him to have his foot x-rayed. So as to encourage him, I said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

His response was, “Are you sure it is not a locomotive?”

I said, gently, “Yes, I am sure.”

There was no definite meaning, nor explanation for my words, just sharing the spirit of God’s grace as we have experienced His presence through all our difficulties in the past.

The nurse wheeled him out, leaving me alone with my own thoughts in the cold, tiny room.

The still, small voice to which I have become accustomed in quiet times, asked, “Am I your God?’

Humbly, I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

“Then, trust Me.”

As simple as that, without audible conversation, I knew that however long this new episode would last, the Lord was assuring me of His presence and power with us.

Six Months Later
We have waited, as in times past, for healing, not only for treatment for the diabetic ulcer that podiatrists started in February, but for tests and an eventual stent for an aneurysm in his leg in April, to allow blood flow to the foot. Added to this was another wound from that incision

In July this wound closed after treatment with a wound vac. The same treatment did not work for the foot. This was their last resort after trying provadine, skin grafts, collagen, and foot baths. So, they sent us to the wound healing center thirty minutes away.

In this first visit last week, they took a culture that showed MRSA, a staph infection, for which they prescribed clindamycin. Yesterday, for our second visit, we were encouraged with the wound half the size as last week. The wound specialist believes this to be the reason for lack of healing, assuring us of complete healing soon.

At the outset of this sore, the primary care physician prescribed two rounds of antibiotics, but he, nor the podiatrist did a culture. There were no visible signs of infection while under the care of the podiatrist.

We are not resentful that they did not do a culture, but glad that it was done last week, believing that all things are revealed and healed in God’s timing.

Hidden Infection
This all reminds me of how things can be hidden. Just as we all carry the infection of sin within us, not knowing that we need healing, it manifests itself in different ways. Relationships are broken, families are torn apart, life can be emotionally and physically unhealthy because of hidden sin.

It is when we come to the only one who can do a culture for us that we know our sin, and accept the prescription, believing that He is able to bring total healing.

Jesus Christ came to earth as the Great Physician over 2000 years ago, He was, and still is, our breakthrough.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for all things; for Christ, your Son, whom you sent to reveal our sin and to heal broken lives. We thank you for wisdom given to men to solve physical problems and to provide healing, believing that all healing is from you, for your glory and for the purpose of our serving you, living in praise and thanksgiving for your mercy, your grace, your goodness and power in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the encouragement that Jerry might soon be able to wear his prosthesis, and that we will be able to worship with your people again. We ask for your healing for others who are ill, in need of physical and spiritual healing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.