Catch the Little Foxes

October 27th, 2017

Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards; for our vines have tender grapes. Song of Songs 2:15

Resolve at once, by God’s help, to break off every known sin, however small.

Look within, each one of you. Examine your own hearts. Do you see there any habit which you know is wrong in the sight of God? If you do, resolve at once to cast it off!

Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely–as an allowed sin. It may be a little one–but it is not any less dangerous.

A small leak will sink a great ship.
A small spark will kindle a great fire.
In the same way, a little allowed sin will ruin an immortal soul.

Take my advice, and never spare a little sin! Israel was commanded to kill every Canaanite, both great and small. Act on the same principle–and show no mercy to little sins.

You can be sure that no wicked man ever meant to be so wicked at his first beginnings. But he began with allowing himself some little sins, and that led on to something greater, and that in time produced something greater still, and thus he became the miserable being that he now is.

Brethren, resist sin in its beginnings. Some sins may look small and insignificant, but mind what I say–resist them, make no compromise, let no sin lodge quietly and undisturbed in your heart. Remember the Apostle’s words, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough!” 1 Corinthians 5:6

Many a man could tell you with sorrow and shame, that he traces his ruin to the point I speak of–to giving way to sin in its beginnings. He began habits of deception and dishonesty in little things–and they grew on him. Step by step, he has gone on from bad to worse–until he has done things that at one time he would have thought impossible. At last he has lost his character, lost his peace, and almost lost his soul. He allowed a gap in the wall of his conscience, because it seemed a little one–and once allowed, that gap grew larger every day, until in time the whole wall came down!

Whatever the world may like to think–there are no little sins! All habits are formed by a succession of little acts, and the first little act is of mighty consequence.

The ax in the fable, only begged the trees to let him have one little piece of wood to make a handle–and he would never trouble them any more. He got it, and then he soon cut them all down!

The devil only wants to get the wedge of a little allowed sin into your heart–and you will soon be all his own.

It is a wise saying, “There is nothing small between us and God–for God is an infinite God.”

There are two ways of coming down from the top of a ladder.
One is to jump down–and the other is to come down by the steps.
Both will lead you to the bottom.

Just so, there are two ways of going to Hell.
One is to walk into it with your eyes open–few people do that.
The other is to go down by the steps of little sins–and that way is only too common. Put up with a few little sins–and you will soon tolerate a few more. Even a heathen could say, “Who was ever content with only one sin?” If you put up with little sins, then your path in life will be worse and worse every year.

Jeremy Taylor very clearly described the progress of sin in a man:

First sin startles him,
then it becomes pleasing,
then it becomes easy,
then it becomes delightful,
then it becomes frequent,
then it becomes habitual,
then it becomes a way of life.
Then the man feels no guilt,
then he becomes obstinate,
and then he is damned!

Friends, if you don’t want to come to this, remember the rule I give you this day–resolve at once to break off every known sin!

~J. C. Ryle

The Key to Understanding

September 6th, 2017

“The eyes of our understanding are opened when we surrender our human sight.”
~R. J. Rushdoony

One of the interesting facets of human history has been the attempt of man to find a key to understanding. Man has, age after age, tried, both philosophically and scientifically, to understand all things in terms of a master concept. One of the things which made Albert Einstein of such central significance to our generation was the contribution he made to a master concept. His unified field theory gave an interpretation to the time, length, breadth, and width of this universe which enabled man to make vast strides towards the understanding and control of material energy. And yet, important as Einstein’s contribution was, it was no true master concept. It indeed comprehended to an extend the meaning of material energy, but there is more to man and creation than material energy, and a master concept which goes no further is no true key to understanding.

In Proverbs 28:5 we have, very simply expressed, a master concept, a key to understanding, which goes beyond matter to interpret the very essence of man’s life. This is what Solomon said, “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.”

The first point made by this proverb is that there is a relationship between faith and understanding. A man’s life and character is an index to the capacity of his understanding. The wicked man cannot fathom the meaning of judgment or justice. God’s dealings with man are beyond him and only confuse and bewilder him. In other words, spiritual confusion involves also intellectual and moral confusion. There is a measure to which we fall short of the Lord’s requirements of us, we are to that same extent incapable of understanding His dealings with us. We are bewildered and rebellious.

The second point made by Solomon is that “they that seek the Lord understand all things.” When the end of our lives is living in terms of faith in the one living God, we gain the knowledge, in every situation of life and in the face of all things, of the meaning of all things. When our personal life has a divine foundation, we are able to understand the workings of God. It is the judgment or justice of God which is the stumbling block to the natural man; but it is this very same thing, the judgment and justice of God, which provides a key of understanding to the faithful. What naturally makes us rebellious, by the grace of God serves also to open the eyes of our understanding. That which alienates the world from God, draws us closer to Him. What to the natural man is a curse, becomes to the believer a blessing. In faithfulness and trust, we are blessed, and the eyes of our understanding opened. Thus it is that Scripture declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Our Lord declared, “If any man will do his (i.e., God’s) will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17).

This is our key to understanding, faith and trust in the Lord. Of such believers, John wrote, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:20). In other words, all believers, the whole church, by virtue of its faith, its indwelling Holy Spirit, has spiritual knowledge which enables it to meet and interpret the events of life and become victorious in the face of adversity.

Faith, therefore, is the key to understanding. Men who try to walk by sight are men who walk blindly. They cannot see one step ahead or one hour into the future. But men, who walk instead by faith, walk with confidence in the dark, knowing they have a guide and knowing that all things are under the providential rule and purpose of their Lord and guide. The eyes of our understanding are opened when we surrender our human sight. In the words of Moffatt’s translation of Ephesians 1:17–23:

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of himself, illuminating the eyes of your heart so that you can understand the hope to which He calls us, the wealth of his glorious heritage in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of his power over us believers—a power which operates with the strength of the might which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords, above every Name that is to be named not only in this age but in the age to come—he has put everything under his feet and set him as head over everything for the church, the church which is his Body, filled by him who fills the universe entirely.

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

Men Whose Tongues are Sharp Swords

June 13th, 2017

 Men, whose tongues are sharp swords? Yes, some men have tongues like that. Maybe you date men, whose tongues are sharp swords or you’re married to one. What do you do to stop that abusive behavior?

Denial

Maybe you look the other way and pretend nothing is happening. Your family, friends, and coworkers see and hear it, but you can’t look at it. If you admit your spouse has a tongue like a sharp sword, then you must do something about it. The thought of confrontation and the work involved not to tolerate that abuse any longer may overwhelm you. It may seem easier to deny it.

“Cindy” stayed in an abusive marriage for years. She told me, “I thought all men talked to their wives that way. I didn’t think I could do anything about it.” 

Minimization

On the other hand, you may admit you date men, whose tongues are sharp swords, or you’re married to one. Perhaps you recite the children’s rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.”

That isn’t true. Because of that abuse, you may suffer a broken heart, a crushed spirit, and a lack of self-respect.

You may say, “It’s not so bad. At least he doesn’t hit me. He’s never beat me up.”

He does beat you up with his mouth. Ask your children. They know, and it hurts them to see the way your husband disrespects you.

Rationalization

Perhaps you make an excuse for your husband. You say that he’s tired and works hard. Thousands of people are tired and work hard, but their tongues are not sharp swords.

You yourself may feel tired. You may work a full-time job outside of the home and another one at home. You clean house, shop for groceries, do the laundry, cook the meals, take care of the children, help them with their homework, and take them to their activities. Yet, your tongue is not a sharp sword.

Call to Action          

For your sake and that of your children, get into a free support group at a domestic violence shelter or seek individual counseling from someone who specializes in domestic violence.

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
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Are You in His Loving Arms?

June 4th, 2017

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested, is that of a little child, lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life, childhood and old age–this promise comes with special assurance.

“He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!” (Isaiah 46:4), brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God’s embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent? What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger–so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow–enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

Another thought, is affection. The father’s arm drawn around a child–is a token of love. The child is held in the father’s bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus’ bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms–tells of His love for them–His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp–we can never be taken. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are “everlasting.” Human arms grow weary even in love’s embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet–but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old–was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother’s arm around it.

So pathetic is human life with–its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God–are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word “underneath.” Not only do the arms of God embrace His child–but they are underneath–always underneath! That means that we can never sink–for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep–like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever, underneath the deepest floods–are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them–or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness–out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life–into the gloom and strange mystery of death–still it will only be–into the everlasting arms!

This view of God’s divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God–holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life’s wild sea–driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith–but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come–can separate us from His everlasting arms!

(J. R. Miller, “A Life of Character”)

It is a fact of life!

May 5th, 2017

It is a fact of life, that all of our thoughts, words, and actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Now, at the age of seventy, my work for good or for evil is done.
I cannot go back and repair what has been amiss.
I cannot now do what has been left undone.
I cannot do in a better manner, what has been imperfectly performed.
I cannot recover the hours that have been wasted.
I cannot correct the evils which may have resulted from my errors.
I cannot overtake and stop what I have spoken or written, as it has gone out into the world.
I cannot summon back the opportunities for usefulness which have been neglected.
I cannot obliterate the reality or the memory of wrong thoughts, or wrong motives, or wrong words, or wrong actions.
All that has been thought or said or done in these seventy years, has become fixed as a reality–never to be changed.
Past errors and follies may be forgiven–but they are never to be changed.

The hope of a man at seventy years of age–at any age–is not that the errors, and sins, and follies of the past can be changed–it is only . . .
that they may be pardoned by a merciful God;
that they may be covered over by the blood of the atonement;
that though they must remain forever as facts–facts fully known to the Great Searcher of hearts–their guilt may be so taken away that they will not be punished;
that by the blood shed on the cross, they themselves may be so covered over–so hidden–that they will not be disclosed on the final trial before assembled worlds!

That hope, the religion of Christ offers to all.

How different would men try to make their lives, if they habitually felt that all–literally all–that they do, or say, or think–even their most fugitive thoughts–becomes thus fixed and unchangeable forever!

~Albert Barnes, “Life at Three-score and Ten” 1868

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God Cuts and Polishes His Jewels

May 2nd, 2017

“They will be Mine in the day when I make up My jewels!” Malachi 3:17

God has many sharp-cutting instruments and rough files for the polishing of His jewels. Those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent–He most often uses His tools upon! (Robert Leighton, 1611-1684)


Jewels are polished for the sake of removing specks and blemishes from them. They are often cut and polished on purpose to make them look more beautiful. If a large diamond is to be put on the crown of some great king, it is only by cutting and polishing that it can be made to shine with all its brilliance.

When you look at a diamond, you see that it has many faces or sides. These don’t belong to diamonds naturally. When they are found in the mines, they have none of these smooth faces. They are then like little pebble-stones, without any particular shape. These smooth, even sides are made by the jeweler, by grinding and polishing. And they are made on purpose to make the diamond look more beautiful.

In the same way, God cuts and polishes His jewels in order to make them shine more brightly and beautifully in the crown of His glory in Heaven.

Sometimes we see good Christian people who have very heavy trials which they are obliged to bear for many years. And when we see them bearing those trials, we often wonder what it is all for.

God is using those trials just as the jeweler uses the files and wheels–to polish His jewels so as to make them brighter and more beautiful in Heaven.

There was that poor beggar at the gate of the rich man, of whom we read in the New Testament. He was left to be so poor, and to have all those dreadful sores, not because God could not help it; He could easily have made him a rich man and have kept him from having any sores at all, if He had so pleased. But Lazarus was one of God’s jewels, and God was making use of his poverty and beggary and sores–in order to polish that jewel and make it shine more beautifully in Heaven!

All of God’s jewels need polishing!

“I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!” Isaiah 48:10

(Richard Newton, “Bible Jewels”)

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Are You Like This Bee?

April 28th, 2017

“Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” 2 Timothy 3:4

Did you ever read of the bee in the fable, that found a pot of honey, and thought it would be fine to save all the trouble of flying about the meadows and gathering its sweet stores, little by little, out of the cups of flowers?

Soon it went in the pot and reveled in the sweets; but when it began to get tired and cloyed, it found–poor bee!–that its wings were all clogged and would not open, nor could it drag its body out of the mass. So it died, buried in pleasure!

There are many people, like this bee, who find death in their pleasures!

“You have lived on earth in pleasure and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter!” James 5:5

~Dr. Edmund

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The Devil’s Beans!

April 26th, 2017

The other day I was going down the street and I saw a drove of pigs following a man. This excited my curiosity, so that I determined to follow. I did so, and to my great surprise I saw them follow him to the slaughterhouse! I was very anxious to know how this was, and I said to the man, “My friend, how did you manage to induce those pigs to follow you here?”

“Oh, did you not see?” said the man; “I had a basket of beans under my arms, and I dropped a few as I came along, and so they followed me.”

Yes, and I thought, so it is–the devil has a basket of beans under his arm, and he drops them as he goes along, and what multitudes he induces to follow him to an everlasting slaughter house! Yes, friends, and all your broad and crowded thoroughfares are strewn with the beans of the devil!

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes!” Ephesians 6:11

~Rowland Hill

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The day after Easter

April 17th, 2017

The day after Easter brings us a simple word-of-the-week…

AND

Most of us read some version of this passage over the weekend.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7)

I’ve likely read the account a hundred times without noticing it. The “and.” Read it again.

“…tell his disciples and Peter…”

Peter was one of the disciples, so why the and?  I think they all knew, and the angel knew they knew. Knew that Peter had denied Jesus, not once but three times! I think they wondered if denying Jesus in that terrible moment was too much. I think they wondered if Peter was still welcomed by Jesus, and the angel knew they wondered.

The angel left no doubt. Peter was still on the team.

Peter messed up pretty badly. Not only was he not kicked out, he got a special invitation. God’s angel made sure everyone knew grace and forgiveness were still part of the deal.

That’s good news for you and me.

It’s Monday. He’s risen. He’s going ahead. We’ve got an engraved invitation. Let’s follow.

You may also want to read: Easter: The Big Event, and then—what?

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Heaven’s Answer

April 11th, 2017

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice. ~ Henry Knox Sherrill

This is not the first time that I have created a post titled, “Heaven’s Answer.” The first was done a few years back to commemorate Christmas, written from the perspective that the birth of Christ was indeed a blessing of divine origin, the beginning.

From that particular newsletter, my thought: “And so, from this point, here in the tiny space that I occupy in the universe, it is through my belief in the Holy Spirit and the seed of his worth that is placed in our hearts that I rejoice and fear not.”

There would be no Christmas if there was no Easter. And now, it is Easter, the most important festival of the Christian church and we are celebrating completion; the fulfillment of all the promise inherent in the beginning; the resurrection of the Word in Heaven’s reply.

And he departed from our sight that we might
return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.
~St Augustine

The great gift of Easter is hope, the Apostle Peter wrote that it is our “new birth into a living hope.”

Recently we found a movie on Netflix titled ‘A Man Called Peter’, the life of Peter Marshall, the pastor from Scotland who became the chaplain of the Senate in the 1940’s. His sermons and prayers are as relevant and inspiring today as they were then.

To wit, “Our father’s God, to Thee who are the author of our liberty, and under whom we have our freedom, we say our prayer. Make us ever mindful that we are the heirs of a great heritage, and the trustees of priceless things, lest we forget the price that was paid for them–or the cost that may yet have to be met to keep them. Make us strong, O God, in conviction with the insight of our perilous times and in the courage for our testing.”

May you have a joyful Easter!

Remember to count your blessings and express the hope in your heart.

~*~
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy