before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning His Longsuffering

I recently came down with a coughing cold.  Yesterday I left for work around 2:30pm.  It is always a blessing to work with Rod and Charles, but I must confess I was glad to see the clock reach the stopping time.  Didn't get home till after 4am this morning.  Showered and laid my head on the pillow just before 5am.

A few hours later, I rose and went to the local abortion mill.  This is something the Lord has put on my heart to do twice a week Wednesdays and Saturdays, speaking for life and witnessing for Christ.  This morning I felt miserable, and could very well have stayed home, being sick and exhausted.  But I chose to go, because those women need to hear a witness and know that their child's life should be defended, not destroyed (Proverbs 31:8).

I stood alone on the sidewalk, pleading with mothers on behalf of their unborn children.  How hard it is to see them refuse to listen, and hear their hard speeches!  I spoke the truth in love and offered help and information, but was rejected and despised.  But, Lord, even when I am despised, I will not forget Thy precepts (Psalm 119:141).  I remember that Jesus my Redeemer has been there before me (Isaiah 53:3).

It must be a horrible thing for a mother to steel herself to do, so that, once decided, they were adamant to cling to their decision.  Some of them were brought by boyfriends, friends, and at least one girl of about 16 was there with her mom.  When hands join in hands, there is often false confidence.  These desperate ladies and their companions were repeatedly making excuses for their actions, cursed at me, and even threatened that I would be beaten up or even killed just for being there.

I think that I have been given a very finite glimpse of a slice of what my Lord describes:

"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;" (Isaiah 65:2).

"But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." (Romans 10:21).

"For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not." (Isaiah 30:15).

"Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 29:19).

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37).

How great my awe to know that the almighty God of the Bible so loved the world that He would come to give his own lifeblood (Ephesians 1:7) and seek to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

Makes me think of the hymn, which says:

"Wounded and bleeding,
for sinners pleading,
blind and unheeding,
dying for me."

The Saviour of the world was rejected, but gave His life a ransom for all.  Think of it--He died to redeem Adam's rebellious race!  And all who turn to Him in faith can be saved from all their sin.  How can I give up serving in a hard ministry, when He did so much more for me when I was still His enemy?  Only but for His grace, I would still be a hell-bound sinner myself.  Praise the Lord for His mercy and His long suffering.

Therefore, I shall not only continue to stand for truth, and speak for life, and preach the Gospel, but I will also invite and encourage other believers to be faithful and obedient to the word of our God and Saviour.  No matter the heartbreak and rejection, the truth is worth being shared, and you never know when someone will hear and turn to do right.  God will not let his words fall to the ground (II Kings 10:10) or return void (Isaiah 55:11).

I pray that the Lord will use my words today to continue to work in the  hearts of these needy souls, and draw them to Himself.  Fruit from this type of ministry is not always seen by the worker, but God gives the increase.  And occasionally we see it.  For instance, last Saturday, a couple at the same place decide to leave and save their child's life, thanks to the pleading of a sidewalk counselor.

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:6).

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Husbands and Fathers - Stand Fast! Save the Women and Children!

Hearken Oh, Brothers!

Yesterday was the 160th anniversary of the Birkenhead shipwreck.

The date was February 26, 1852. The British H.M.S. “Birkenhead” was en route to South Africa. This troopship held over seven hundred, which included the crew of sailors and also the passengers -- men, women and children. They were soldiers and their families sent to reinforce the troops engaged in the Kaffir Wars.
The ship itself was typical of the glorious power and industry of her generation. She was one of the first iron-hulled vessels of war. The crew and passengers had no fear in regard to her seaworthiness. But at 2:00 a.m. on that fateful day, the ship struck aground off Cape Danger. Within 20 minutes, she had sunk.
In those moments before she submerged, the soldiers and sailors made a valiant decision: “Stand fast!  Save the women and children!” They would give their lives for the women and children. So their wives and babes were loaded into the limited number of lifeboats and so escaped. The more than 400 soldiers willingly stood at attention on deck and allowed them to get to safety. Then when the ship went down, those who foundered in the water refused to swim for the boats, lest they should capsize the little vessels.
The remaining men struck out for shore, but there was another danger. Sharks! Many were ravaged by these frenzied man-eaters. Slightly more than 80 men reached the shore alive. Hundreds lost their lives, yet not one woman or child suffered injury.
The story of the “Birkenhead” drill was told for many years. It was that event which established the principle of “Women and children first.”

The famous writer Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem of the account:

“So they stood an’ was still to the Birkenhead Drill, soldier an’ sailor too!”

Sadly, it is now one of those great accounts that people have forgotten out of mind in recent years.
These men thought more of their families than their own lives.  So they braved the sinking ship and terrible sharks, in order for the next generation to be protected.

In these uncertain days of rocky seas, stormy gales, and shipwrecks men NEED to shew themselves to be MEN.
While multitudes are: running about "seeking the ports" of their own desires, pushing and shoving to not "miss the boat", "casting off" all restraint, "weighing anchor" on their responsibilities, and putting their own interests and agendas before their families WE must follow a DIFFERENT course.

We need to see that the Captain of our salvation has given us orders!  We need to read His ship's articles! While others are "bailing out" of their roles, let us stand fast.

When the wind of the gale rips across the deck, let us HOLD FAST! We need to see and do our duty. When you read the Captain's orders, do not choose your own way by demanding, "I! I!"  Answer, "Aye, aye!"

We must take the responsibility to nurture and teach our wives and children, or else we will witness their shipwrecked lives and souls.  Let us cry, "Oh, Lord my Captain!  Let me not lead my family into shipwreck, let not my wife and children castaways (I Corinthians 9:27)!  Teach me to truly be the husband and father my family needs!"
If we are not faithful in little things, how can we be expected to be faithful in the great things?  Give your life daily for your wife and little ones!  What should our response be when we must choose between our own agendas and the spiritual well-being of our households?  The same as the men of the Birkenhead:

"Stand Fast!  Save the Women and Children!"

Fellow husband, and fellow father, how are you living each day to bless, protect, and give your life for your wife and your children?  To the man who is yet unmarried, how will you live today in order to be properly prepared for the time, Lord willing, when you are a husband and father? Your actions today are either hindering future rewards or laying down a proper foundation. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).  Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord and read, then live thereby.

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Nile Turning to Blood

Question asked: "Is there any evidence that remains from the Nile turning to blood during Moses time? Someone was asking me this just the other day and I really have no answer. It does seem odd though, if it were blood that there would still be evidence somewhere in the Mediterranean…"

   Good question!  I do not know of any discoveries of blood found today in the Mediterranean Sea that remains from when the Nile turned to blood.  There may be evidences of this that have not yet come to the surface.

   However it must be realized that the waters of the Mediterranean (and oceans too) are fantastic recyclers, which is an amazing evidence of the earth's design.  Without that feature, the planet would soon be corrupted with blood and multitudes of rotting bodies, and life as we know it would cease to exist.  Of course we know that, whether or not evidence is found, the Bible is true, for God cannot lie.

   I think that the answer to this query can be found in the Bible in both Exodus 4 and Exodus 7.

In Exodus chapter 4, God has told Moses to go to Egypt, and Moses says the people would not believe him.  God gives three signs that would establish that Moses was from God:

"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee."

First sign:
And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee."

   We find that God turns Moses' rod to a serpent, and then changes it back with no evidence of what it had just been.

Second sign:
And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign."

   We find that God turns Moses' hand to leprosy, and then changes it back with no evidence of the former disease.

Third sign:
"And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land" (Exodus 4:1-9).

   God does not do this with Moses in the wilderness, because the Nile wasn't present to draw from.  However, it is entirely possible that after it was used to give witness of God's appointment of Moses to bring the people out, that the blood would turn back to water, with no evidence of ever being blood.  In Exodus 4:29-31, Moses and Aaron delivered God's message to the enslaved Hebrews and "...did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed..."

   Now let's go to the plague of blood, the first of ten plagues that God did unto Egypt.  Each plague showed God's power and exposing the various Egyptian gods as fake and powerless (Numbers 33:4; Psalm 78:12,43-44, etc.).  The plague of blood was against the fraudulent god of the Nile.  Let's read the passage: "And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river." (Exodus 7: 20-25).    

   During this plague, the Nile waters turned to blood.  The fish died.  The river stank.  The Egyptians could not drink of the river.  And it lasted for 7 days.  By the time of the next plague (chapter 8), the river had returned to water.  Looking at it from the Bible, I see no need of evidence of blood from the river being found in the Mediterranean, for it had done its purpose, and was changed back to water.

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Friday, February 3, 2012

God's Fourfold Witness

I have been asked, "Why hasn't God left a witness of Himself so that people around the world will know of Him and will be drawn to Him for salvation?  What about those who have never heard of Him?  Is it fair that they go to Hell?"

The Bible tells us that all those who die without knowing Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be lost for ever in Hell. Sadly many will go that way that leadeth to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Some ask if that is fair. God is completely just. I would not call Him "fair." I do not want Him to be fair. If He was fair, He would give everyone what they deserve, and we all deserve eternity in HELL! Let me reiterate--I don't want Him to be fair, and neither should anyone one else who understands their sinful condition. "There is NONE that doeth good, no not one" (Romans 3:10-20,23). But God has made a way so that anyone who believes on Him can be saved (John 3:16), for He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

"The Lord is not slack in His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). He desires for all people to come to salvation through faith in Jesus. Jesus told his disciples to "Go ye therefore, and teach ALL NATIONS..." (Matthew 28:19), "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE" (Mark 15:16), "...Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH" (Acts 1:8). They were to preach the gospel to every nation, every tribe, every person. In Heaven, there will be people from every people group, every tribe, every language. This is a part of the song of praise those people will sing to the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son: "...for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Revelation 5:9).

God has made Himself known in many ways "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets..." (Hebrews 1:1). So each generation has had a testimony from the Lord.

Did you know that God has NOT left Himself without witness? He has given a fourfold testimony to people.

The Creation: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world..." (Psalm 19:1-4). The creation, the heaven and the earth, declare God's existence and character, so that all are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The Care: "...Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:15-17).  He gives rains and sunshine to the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  God has provided so much for our care, things that we need. He did this that we might seek him, as Paul preached on Mars Hill (Acts 17:27).

The Conscience: "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel" (Romans 2:14-16). The conscience bears witness of right and wrong.

The Canon: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17) This is most very evident (Psalm 19:7-11), (II Timothy 3:14-17).  He has given unto us the holy, infallible, perfect word of the living God, the canon of Scripture, the Bible. From creation to Christ, from beginning to end, it is the greatest testimony and and specific witness of the Lord, and we are to go and use it to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15, II Peter 1:19-21).

There are some books that tell of some of the redemptive analogies that God has put in cultures to give them opening to the Gospel.  A couple of them are Eternity in Their Hearts and Peace Child by missionary Don Richardson.

I hope this is helpful in sharing how God has extended love and longsuffering (similar to patience) to all humanity, and has provided the "...Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11) to save us from all our sins. If we reject the witnesses He has given, and the way of salvation He has provided, then it is OUR fault, not God's.