Posts Tagged ‘failure’

The Key to Understanding

Wednesday, 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.

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

Are You in His Loving Arms?

Sunday, 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!

Friday, 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

Tuesday, 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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The Devil’s Beans!

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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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A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, “Comfort, comfort My people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer.

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity.”  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty, and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven.

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .
put our sins in a bag and buried them,
written our names in a book to remember them, and
placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

~Don Fortner

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The Purposes of God Stand

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Those who reject the doctrine of the total depravity of man must skim over many parts of Scripture, which is unique among the holy books of all religions in that it does not shy away from revealing the evils of even its most prominent characters. The Bible is a book about sin, in fact. It addresses the origin of sin and its only resolution. Heaven is in view, but only as the full restoration of the redeemed man. The Biblical picture of heaven is a place of victory over sin made possible by the atonement for sins by Jesus Christ.

Because it is a book about man’s sin problem, the Bible does not hesitate to point out sin, even when it is in God’s covenant people. We are not presented with a religion of positive thinking, but one with real sinners who often fail their God. Thus, we are shown Noah’s drunkenness, as well as that of Lot. We are shown the disobedience of Moses, the apostasy of Saul, the adultery and murder by David, and the excesses of Solomon.

Sometimes these accounts are so familiar to us they fail to shock us. Take, for instance, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his own brothers. This was perhaps a crueler act then if they had murdered him outright. God may have intended it for good, as Joseph later told his brothers, but their action was no less evil. This, the earlier incest of Reuben, and the murders by Simeon and Levi reveal the nature of Israel’s sons. No virtue can be ascribed to them; all that comes through is the grace of God. Nothing else could have made such men leaders of the covenant people.

All too often, we see only the evil in men and in cultures and fail to see God’s grace at work. Such a perspective leads to cynicism and a defeatist attitude. We ought to remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph saw great evil in their day but never saw the fulfillment of the promises in terms of which they lived. Likewise, Christ has made us more than conquerors, but we often personally know only what seems to us defeat. The purposes of God stand, however, and our walk must not be by sight, but by faith. Even our death, the “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26) will, in the end, be defeated. Like watching a replay when we know the good outcome, our perspective should be one of joy and delight in the certainty of the resolution of all things by a righteous God.

~Mark R. Rushdoony

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

Suffering from Perpetual Frustration?

Monday, March 27th, 2017

This morning I saw that the house needed cleaning in a very big way. And I created this little hell inside my own head. I made an issue of the fact that the house is a mess allowing myself to get upset and let the adrenaline roll. This, in turn, lead to physically getting into a tither. The mess in the house was the trigger but I created the hell inside of me and it exploded to an outward physical tornado. This is an example of what I think the author was getting at in the article Self-created Hells.

This quote from the article struck me: “entitlement plus unrealistic demand equals perpetual frustration.” Now I do not think of myself as an entitled person but I feel I am entitled to some form of “normalcy” in life. Of course, God always tosses in valleys, mountains, storms….

Life is not normal. There is no such thing as normal. But I do feel entitled to this “normalcy” whatever that is. When my life is turned upside down I have a choice on how I react to it. But my choices have ramifications. If I choose badly that self-created hell springs up.

Bad choices = self-created hells

Sometimes I am forced into making choices by circumstances, people, places etc. and I do not have the luxury of time to think things over and make the best choice. A choice just has to be made. And under pressure, wrong choices are made thus resulting in self-created hells.

But I can’t allow myself to get into a trap with this…. or an endless cycle of:
choice > hell > choice > hell

Jesus is there to break the cycle…..He is peace….. He is serenity……The last thing he wants is for you or I to be in some form of hell. He leadeth me beside the still waters…..He maketh me to lay down in green pastures…He restoreth my soul…..That is Christ…. So when I feel myself slipping into a hell i have to put on the breaks and seek Him.

Too often I am trying to climb straight to the top of the mountain (I am talking about a huge, boulder encrusted peak). But God provides those switch-back paths that wind their way back and forth for us to trod upon. The way is far longer but the grade is gradual and manageable. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God can reduce any mountain to a gradual path. The summit is still attained.

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~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and Alcoholics Victorious

Are You Envious?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A canary and a goldfish had their allotment together in the same room.

One hot day the master of the house heard the fish complaining of his silent condition, and envying the sweet song of his companion overhead. “Oh, I wish I could sing as sweetly as my friend up there!”

Meanwhile the Canary was eyeing the inhabitant of the globe, “How cool it looks! I wish my lot were there.”

“So then it shall be!” said the master, and forthwith placed the fish in the air–and the bird in the water.

Immediately they saw their folly, and repented of their discontent and grumbling.

The moral of this little fable is this: Let every man be content in the state in which Divine Providence has placed him, and believe that it is what is best fitted for him!

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

(author unknown)

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