Afflictions Are Limited

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Written by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

“Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Nahum 1:12

The entire human family, including God’s elect, will at times suffer various afflictions; however, our great and wise God, “according to the multitude of his mercies,” assures us that they are limited (see Lamentations 3:31-33). The rod does not last forever. Just as the prophet Nahum (“comfort”) gave a message of comfort to the nation of Judah in the seventh century B. C., revealing that Jehovah would eventually remove the Assyrian rod from their land, so too we are assured that the trials and sorrows of God’s people will one day come to an end: “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Thus we have this comforting promise to us in the New Testament:“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Note, “receiving!”
 
It was C. H. Spurgeon who once said, “Our Father in heaven takes away the rod when his design in using it is fully served.” Yes, whatever that “design” is, our merciful God will some day take it away. So, let us “be of good cheer,” looking to our Lord Jesus Christ alone, who knew all about afflictions of soul and body when hanging on the tree of Calvary as our Substitute. Dying for his people, “the just for the unjust,” he was identifying himself with us in all of our afflictions, according to 1 Peter 2:23-24; 3:18. What wondrous love, mercy, and condescension this was from our precious Savior!
 
Whatever trials we are facing today, let us learn anew that “in the faith” we must look beyond our present circumstances to a brighter day. Satan, our enemy and adversary, will not win in the end, so we are admonished: “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:9-11).
 
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.” 
                              John Newton
                              Gadsby’s #295
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Pour Out Your Heart

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“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8

Written by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

As Christians, we must humbly desire to pray aright. Our text is the what, the how, and the why of true prayer. Note that we must “pour out” our hearts before God! This is essential if we pray correctly. Listen to Ambrose Serle (1742-1812) on this subject: “When the mind is truly touched by grace, it will and must pray. If the heart cannot find words to carry up its request, it will send them forth in earnest groans.

Prayer can no more be kept from ascending than flame from the fire. ‘Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’ (Romans 8:26).  The cries of a drowning man are above the formality of words, and forcibly pierce the ear for help; so the deep-felt anguish of a convinced heart is inexpressibly eager for mercy, and with moans and groans sues it out from God in right earnest.”

What powerful, searching words! Note the importance of the mind being touched by grace with heart-felt anguish, moans, and groans. We need more than “formality of words” or “florid oration” or “fine speech.” To truly pray there must be “grace” in the heart, which alone produces “earnest groans” and “tearful sighs.” The Greek text of Romans 8:26-27 further clarifies the doctrine of prayer: “groanings” is from stenazo, “to sigh,” and such “unutterable groans” are attributed to the Spirit of God making “intercession on behalf of” the saints. The work of the Holy Spirit is necessary in order “to rescue us” with “sighs that baffle words,” Paul picturing the Spirit “taking hold at our side” as our Paraclete “at the very time of our weakness” (A. T. Robertson).

Some think Jesus taught us to pray something like this: “But when you pray, tilt your head, close your eyes, and listen to the designated person leading in prayer.” Is this not sadly so? Is that the only kind of “praying” you know? But the Master taught us that true prayer is personal, spiritual, of the heart, spontaneous, done mostly in secret, and is not with “vain repetitions” or “many words” (Matthew 6:6-7). An unbeliever cannot pray! The world cannot pray (John 17:25). Bought by Christ’s blood at Calvary, the quickened children of God alone can and do truly pray.

Let us earnestly seek to know prayer’s spiritual power by “humbling ourselves” before the great and awesome Yahweh (Nehemiah 1:4-5; James 4:10). God indeed is the majestic Sovereign, before whom we must come in contrition and fear, being commanded, “Ye people, pour out your heart before Him.”  True prayer affects our hearts, often causing groans and sighs and tears, or just an “Abba, Father.” May we know this experimentally through our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A form of words may please
A sinner dead in sin;
But quickened sinners want to pray,
As prompted from within.
Gadsby’s Hymns #725

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What Does The Bible Say About Lying?

truth-2069843_1280We’ve all lied or we’re lying about never lying. And from experience we know that one lie can easily lead to many more. So I can confidently say you’ve been a liar liar pants on fire, but have to admit my jeans have burn marks too. But lying is a sin so severe it’s not something we should make fun of or take lightly is it? In fact, it’s awful and we should hate it.

If you’ve ever been deceived by a slick salesperson or misleading mechanic, led astray by a false teacher, had your identity stolen and used, your account hacked and fake messages sent, burned by a dishonest boss or employee, falsely accused or slandered, deceived by a seemingly trustworthy friend or family member, or one of the hardest – lied to by your spouse, child, or teenager, you know the damage, distrust, disruption, anger, frustration and anguish that can be generated by a single lie – no matter the perceived color of the lie.

So what does the Bible say about lying? 

1. A Liar Hates

Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart (Proverbs 26:24).

A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:28).

2. There Are Consequences To Lying

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit (Proverbs 12:17).

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish (Proverbs 19:9).

An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue (Proverbs 17:4).

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy (Proverbs 12:19-20).

3. God Hates Lying

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16).

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Colossians 3:9-10). 

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight (Proverbs 12:22).

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Of the seven things God hates in Proverbs 6, notice how lying is mentioned twice, but it can be applied to all seven in the form of lying or believing a lie.

4. A Liar is a Liar Because of The Liar

It all goes back to Genesis:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:4-6).

When Jesus was speaking to the Jews who wouldn’t believe He said:

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).”

William Blake (1757-1827) references that infernal serpent lending his forked tongue in his poem The Liar. After reading it, I can’t help but wonder if the serpent’s tongue can be borrowed so often he eventually says, “you don’t need mine, you already own one.”

The Liar
Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?

When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby-moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended only to turn him into glue?

What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

What infernal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

5. The Truth Will Set You Free

With all the bad news regarding the consequences of lying, where is the remedy? The good news is the truth will set us free. The truth is Jesus came to save sinners like you and me.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”

If you place your hope and faith and trust in Him you will be set free, you will repent or turn away from lying and will no longer be a slave to sin and the deception of The Liar. Going back to same chapter in John (Chapter 8) where Satan is called the father of lies, Jesus speaks to the Jews who believed and says:

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:31-36).”

In this life we won’t have perfection, and you may struggle with lying, but if you are a disciple of Christ there is hope, forgiveness, and freedom. If you continue to struggle, seek accountability, be quick to repent, be quick to seek forgiveness, don’t lie and try to cover it up with more lies, but walk forward in the light of His victorious truth and freedom!

 

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