Lessons4journey

That old cat-killer, ‘Curiosity’

Curiosity killed the cat

Most of us have probably heard the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat”, but I submit to you that it has done more damage than that. I am convinced that it has killed quite a few humans as well.

It has also been, I suggest,  destructive in the spiritual life of believers. Perhaps there was a hint of curiosity even in of the well known parable of the Prodigal son, as he leaves for that far off land: to waste his substance in riotous living. (Luke 15)

If you, like I, were born with a inquiring mind, that curiosity may drive you in directions you never thought possible. It can be quite an explosive cocktail when mixed with the quick answers the internet provides.

Think of it. How do you respond when a headline flashes up on the webpage for something you are just curious about? Do you click it and head down a blind alley, not knowing what might come up next? I’m sure we have all been guilty of this at one time or another.

I suggest that we try not to make a habit of it, for curiosity can kill. Every corner on the internet may just have some hidden danger around it. We must remember that a 5 second look at something impure can take 20 years to erase. Worse, it can start a chain reaction which can lead ultimately to spiritual disaster.

How can we combat it? Here are some suggestions that I intend to try to follow.

1. Limit yourself – Can you limit yourself to (say) an hour a day on the internet? Believe it or not, the world revolved, the birds sang, and people lived for God before the internet was created 20-odd years ago!

2. Have a Purpose – Try to have a useful purpose when on the net. Surfing is  relaxing but it can also be stupefying, helping your guard to drop and making susceptible to things that normally you would steer clear of.

3. Quick Confession – If you do happen to stumble across something smutty or unclean, take yourself to the Lord to confess and forsake it. Even spend time reading His word to cleanse your mind.

4. Remember what God has made you, and to whom your eyes belong to. (1)

– “You are bought with a price” 1 Cor 6:20

– “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27

5. Remember that everyone of us has the flesh within, i.e. high explosive waiting for a fiery dart, therefore put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:13-18)

6. Find an accountability partner and set up accountability software such as accountable2you.

Curiosity can start innocently enough,  but please remember, like the metaphorical cat, you don’t know what’s around the corner.

 

(1) A recommended book on these issues “Look Straight Ahead” – Sam Thorpe Jr, Everyday Publications”  is found at the following link

https://www.ecsministries.org/367975.ihtml

 

 

 

 

 

Adding up of days…

When I was just saved I was introduced to the power of example; a truly wonderful thing.

People like Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to Ecuador. What an example of heroic faith in God, and what an army of missionaries and servants of God have been profoundly influenced by the faith and sacrifice of this one man.

Another book which profoundly moved me was “The Triumph of John and Betty Stam”, the story of a martyred couple who give their all for the Lord in China.

John and Betty Stam photograph

Recommended reading!

I then realized that Lord calls many people to simply live for him consistent, God-honouring lives. I found inscribed in the insert page of my Dad’s old Bible these words:

“If He died for me, the least I can do is live for Him”

How profoundly true.

Let’s live for Him as never before. Let’s obey every truth of His Word!

“A noble life is not a blaze
Of sudden glory won,
But just an adding up of days
In which God’s will is done.”

(Poem quoted from “One day at a Time”: William MacDonald)

EL OLAM – “The Everlasting God” (Gen 21v33)

 

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Abraham had grown old, he had weathered the storms of life. He had journeyed, pitched his tent, upped camp and journeyed again. He had come from Ur, travelled across the Euphrates flood-plains until he entered the land of Canaan, then he had compassed the land of promise, Canaan from north to south. In times of failure he had dwelt in Egypt and Philistia, but he had returned to tent and altar, to Bethel and Hebron. God had promised Him a son and then given Him his promised son 25 years later. It had been a hard journey, but he had learned so much about his God.

He knew he was a God of Splendour, for “the God of glory” had appeared unto Him right at the beginning of the journey (Acts 7v2). He learned from Melchizedek that he was a God of absolute Supremacy “the Most High God” (EL ELYON)”. He understood no doubt, through Hagar, that he was EL ROI, a God of Seeing, who saw and met the need of the outcast. His God revealed Himself as the God of Sufficiency (EL SHADDAI), able to fulfil his promises completely by himself. Now, as he reflects on life he understands that he has come to know a God of Stability – EL OLAM, the Everlasting God.

Yes, his life had been full of ‘flitting’ here and there, it had been full of trials and tough decisions, it had had its ups and downs, but God had been there through it all! The Everlasting God – nothing could decay His love or dilute His promises, He was the great Rock of Abraham’s life. He had fulfilled His promises to him.

A grasp of this God is what we need in 2012. The new year comes with its unexpected tomorrow: the journey of life for us might hold unexpected twists and turns this year, but one thing is absolutely sure our God, the Everlasting God, is with us in it and is waiting for us at the end of it.

Never fear Christian, the “Everlasting Hills” beckon us, an “Everlasting Kingdom” awaits (Ps 145), His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps 103), In Him lies “everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26v4) and “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Jer 31v3).

How wonderful it is to know EL OLAM.

 

 

“Tell it not in Gath…”

harp

There came a day in David’s illustrious life when he wrote a song that he had no joy in singing!  It was really a lament called the “Song of the Bow” and this composition eventually made it into the “Book of Jasher”, no longer extant. (2 Samuel 1:19-27)

David’s great enemy Saul, and his son Jonathan had fallen in battle to the Philistines and David’s heart wept for them. In this he certainly embodied the truth of Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (ESV).

Someone has put it like this. “To hate those who love you is Satanic, and to love those who love you is Human, but to love those who hate you is Divine”

David takes up the lament:

“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult… How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished!”

How sad it is when the enemies of God’s people can look among us and see defeat and failure in our midst! This was true in Corinth, “It is actually (or commonly) reported that there is fornication among you… and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles” (1 Cor 5:1).  This brought great shame on the testimony. When we walk before the Lord may we be careful to remember our testimony before the world – they are watching. What a shame it is when you hear people say “he calls himself a Christian but…”!

From this dirge we learn:

1.      A lesson about Pleasure: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls…” Proverbs 24:17.
2.      A lesson about Publishing: “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon.
3.      A lesson about Pride: “How the mighty have fallen… How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished”

 

The effects of sin…

The Last Supper

 “When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper’, he sought long for a model for his Christ. At last he located a chorister in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and features, a young man named Pietro Bandinelli.

Years passed, and the painting was still unfinished. All the disciples had been portrayed save one – Judas Iscariot. Now he set out to find a man whose face was hardened and distorted by sin – and at last he found a beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas. When he was about to dismiss the man, he said, ‘I have not yet found out your name.’ ‘I am Pietro Bandinelli,’ he replied, ‘I also sat for you as your model of Christ.’

The sinful life of years so disfigured the once fair face of the young man that it now looked as though it were the most villainous face in all Rome! Sin degrades! Sin debases!

— Indian Christian

(1200 Notes, Quotes and Anacdotes – A. Naismith)

“Zoar”

I was listening recently to the life of Abraham and Lot from Genesis (recommended buying from ITunes if you have an Ipod – buy an audio bible!) and I stumbled across Zoar (Heb. meaning “Little” or “Smallness”), what a tragedy it really was for Lot. Read Gen 13.

Zoar

You’ll remember how Lot got a taste for the well-watered plains that reminded him of Egypt, so when he saw the Jordan Valley in bloom, he forgot about his pilgrim character, didn’t take into account the dangers of Sodom and pitched his tent in that direction. He saw it as a lost paradise (the garden of the Lord),  like Egypt, – he saw Zoar. It was small, seemingly insignificant, just a little city.

The path of Faith for the Christian today involves having a pilgrim character, we are “away from home” (Strangers) but we are “going home” (Pilgrims) (see 1 Peter). We are surrounded by the attractions and allurements of the world which would try to suck us in and stop us making progress for God.

The world system can be like UR (where Abraham left) it was full of the splendour of man-made religions and especially IDOLATRY. Abraham one day saw the God of Glory, He heard His word and trusted Him and left UR forever. If we have trusted the Lord Jesus truly as our Saviour, we should have left the idols of the world forever. May God help us to. Let’s give the Lord the place He deserves in our hearts.

The world system can be like EGYPT – the thing about Egypt was it’s boasted INDEPENDENCE, it had it’s own river, the Nile, it wasn’t reliant (or so it thought!) on the rains of heaven, it’s Pharoah could say “Who is the LORD?” – it’s just like the present world psychi which says “I don’t need God, thank you very much – I can live in independence of God”.

The world system can by like SODOM – the main thing about Sodom was it’s IMMORALITY, of course. The world is getting worse and worse like this, just calling for the judgement of God. Lot ended up here in Sodom, entangled in Sodom. He never approved it’s practices but he was in the middle of it none the less.  

How did he get there?

And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. 12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” Gen 13v10-13 NKJV

 He saw the business sense of moving towards the cities of the plain but he forgot the dangers, for they were full of wicked men. We like to be close enough to the world to be able to do well in it but not really fall in with it. Lot wanted his paradise here. He was looking at it all wrong. If we, as Christians, live for a while in independance of God, we will eventually find many things attractive that God hates.

But what is Zoar to do with all this. Read on in the story, through ch 19. Zoar was just little. It pictures what we often find in our own hearts – we often don’t want the sin of Sodom, but we want a little bit of the world, just a little bit that is attractive to us! But that little bit sucks us in and ruins our usefulness for God.

Ask yourself, “What is the Zoar in my life?” – what little part of the world, seemingly so harmless, actually hinders you as a Christian. – Be careful with it – avoid it at all cost – be like Abraham, advancing to the heights of Hebron – enjoying God because he was prepared to let God chose his pathway.
 

Him…for me!

One of the most tremendous truths of Christianity – is this truth “The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for Me” (Galatians 2v20). Every Christian at some time surely, has revelled in this stellar truth. He took my place, He died for Me.

 No religion offers anything like this, this truth comes straight from the heart of God – to us. Do we want to know if God loves us? Let’s remember “Him – for me”!  Nothing could be more certain. God’s love is in public view, the cost was the blood of His own Son!

 Do we want to know if Christ is for us? Let’s remember “Him – for me”. We came in all our wretched nothingness to Christ. We didn’t bring him our success, our endeavours – we came with empty hands and yet, yet we discovered “He loved me, so much that He died for me” – yes, Christ is for us – He died for us, He lives in Heaven for us and one day He will come again for us and He will rest in His love forever, with His blood bought Bride, the Church.  

“O Jesus Lord, Who loved us like to Thee?
Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
Thy saints the prize and travail of Thy soul” J N Darby

May God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant us that we will worship Him with a true heart, praise Him as He ought to be praised and love Him, in our measure, as He has loved us! Amen.

A trembling soul, I sought the Lord,
My sin confessed, my guilt deplored;
How soft and sweet His word to me:
“I took thy place and died for thee.”

Refrain:
No other hope, no other plea:
He took my place and died for me.
O precious Lamb of Calvary!
He took my place and died for me.

Here rests my heart; assurance sweet,
His blessed work He will complete,
Since in His love so great and free
He took my place and died for me.

When sorrow veils the smiling day,
When evil foes beset my way,
Abundant grace in Him I see;
He took my place and died for me.

No room for doubt, no room for fears,
When to my view the cross appears;
My joyful song shall ever be:
He took my place and died for me.

(Eliza E Hewitt 1851-1920)

“Why do Christians shoot their wounded?”

I think it’s the name of a book – food for thought isn’t it!

The armies of the world don’t do that, they might shoot the wounded on the other side – such is the depravity of man – but they usually tend and care for those on their own side who have been injured in conflict.

Galatians 6 speaks of “those who are spiritual” restoring such a persion “in the spirit of meekness” – may the Lord give me such a spirit!

Another one that’s food for thought – why when the Bible speaks about “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace” do so many Christians spend their days splitting believers by fault finding, raking up the past 100 years, and then treating fellowbelievers as though they have a contagious disease?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most peaceable brother ever, but surely, surely this should make us think….

Faith (4) It’s Victory

Ultimately, in God’s time, those with true faith in Him will be shown to be on the winning side.

We live in a world that increasingly mocks our faith. If you give out a few tracts you will probably face comments such as “get a life” or “you’re a loser”. It is important to see that we are ultimately conquerors!

victory-photo.jpg

 Paul takes a look around him in Romans 8 and views the persecution of Christians – some chased from pillar to post, some hunted down by human authorities and some willingly forfeiting their lives for “the faith”.  He asks a question:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “ For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

The apostle John writes in his first letter speaks of being an overcomer (winner/victor), this again is linked to faith.

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5v4-5, NKJV)

 The faith that we exercised initially at the moment of conversion was the very victory that overcame the world!

You see the world-system that is around us emphasizes to us everything that we can see and touch; it appeals to our senses and emotions; it draws out our desires and blinds us to eternal realities. Many people spend thousands of pounds securing good pension arrangements for their retirement and never give time or thought to after death – blinded, deluded and deceived! Wilfully trapping themselves on a sinking ship.

In contrast, by God’s grace, we have seen beyond the temporary to the eternal. In trusting God and His Son for salvation we have admitted that there is a God, there is a heaven, there is a hell, there are realities beyond this life – we have overcome the world. One day this all will be manifest. But for now, we must walk by faith and not by sight! (2 Cor 5v7). Let’s have a good read of Hebrews chapter 11!

By faith our fathers roamed the earth 
With the power of His promise in their hearts 
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand 
A place where peace and justice reign  

We will stand as children of the promise 
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward 
Till the race is finished and the work is done 
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

(Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend – on their new album Awaken the Dawn)