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Archive for November, 2010

You would think there would be more to the beginning of what we now know as one of Paul’s missionary journeys, but it really seems like Paul and Barnabas were sitting around one day and Paul said: “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing”. And with that, a missionary journey was born.

I guess I’ve always thought of these journeys as something bigger than life. But really it is just the record of what Paul did. He went about encouraging and strengthening the churches. He was an evangelist. It’s what he did. It’s what he was good at.

But right after Paul’s ‘good’ idea, comes a ‘bad’ one. He didn’t want to take Mark but Barnabas did; and from there things got really ‘ugly’ fast. In Acts, Luke tells us that “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”

How often do our good ideas get sidetracked before they ever get off the ground? This exchange could have resulted in one less missionary journey; but in spite of how ugly it got, neither Paul nor Barnabas let it keep them from the good they had thought to do.

There will forever be an enemy to any good idea that God gives us. As much as God tries to initiate them for the purpose of encouraging and strengthening other believers, Satan does his best to stifle them.

Lord help me to see the ‘good’ ideas You give me, through to their end; to not let the ‘bad’ or even the ‘ugly’ keep me from what I think to do; to more and more use what I am good at for this purpose.

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How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation
By John Rippon 1787

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

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I have walked the way of Abraham;
not knowing where the end.
But to test my trust He pointed me;
to the mountain He did send.

Will He say ‘Enough!’ – ‘the test complete’,
when my willingness He does see?
When I saddle up and begin to move,
will He then say ‘enough’ to me?

Will I travel on till the end’s in sight;
will He then say ‘far enough’?
Will He let me climb just so far,
but not past very rough?

“Before too late, I will provide”,
but yet I see no ram.
I’ve reached the top, the fire is hot;
are we to be the lamb?

“You’ve hoped in vain” the voices say;
‘my God will not come through.
I’ll never hear Him say ‘enough’;
I’m here to pay my due’.

My mind is set to bind us all;
for years we’ll have to pay.
I’d hoped to hear Him say ‘Enough!’
somewhere along the way.

My trust required to bitter end;
the end my trust will meet.
My trust remains, it’s still in tack;
this now my test complete.

He watches close so not to miss,
He knows His timing’s near;
as promised from the very start,
at last . . . ‘Enough’ I hear.

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‘There is Just Life’

In the movie ‘Tombstone’, there is a scene near the end where Doc Holiday is on his death bed and Wyatt Earp has come to visit him. There is an exchange that goes something like this. Wyatt asks Holiday what he wants out of life. Holiday in return asks Wyatt the same. Wyatt’s answer was ‘to live a normal life’. I love Holiday’s response; “There is no normal life; there is just life.”

It is easy in life, to focus on what we think life ought to be like. By doing so, we can miss life. I have become convinced that at any time in our life, there is usually a mix of good and bad. We struggle over one thing while rejoicing over another. At best we can hope and pray that there is more of the latter than the former, but the bottom line is . . . it is all life.

I thought when I read this story in Acts 12 of how Peter was miraculously rescued from prison, how much that is our focus. That is what we have heard sermons on. I’ve never heard a sermon on what happened to James. James was put to death with a sword. Why did God rescue Peter but not James?

Does it help us to read of Peter and hope that God will rescue us? In the end, He either does or He doesn’t. Who in their right mind wouldn’t hope that He would, but if our ‘life’ is dependent on it, we are focusing on what we think life ought to be like – on what we think is normal. But . . . there is no normal; there is just life.

After Holiday told Wyatt ‘there is just life’, he added ‘so just get on with it’. We cannot predict. It does no good to speculate. We can just live. And we can be sure that if God lets us live, He will take care of us. Beyond that . . . ?

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