Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Faith (page 2 of 2)

This is My Father’s World

“History is but the unrolled scroll of Prophecy.” — President James A. Garfield

james_garfield

“This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord …” (Ephesians 3:11)

“… according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will …” (Ephesians 1:11)

“… remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

“… the King of the ages …” (1 Timothy 1:17)

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.” (Acts 15:18, NKJV)

“… God desired to show … the unchangeable character of his purpose …” (Hebrews 6:17)

Plucked from the Fire

firestorm

On August 31, 1894 a firestorm swept across the woodlands of northeast Minnesota, swallowing the thriving town of Hinckley and several other smaller burgs as it cut a swath thirty miles wide as it plunged northeastward. As the inferno hit Hinckley temperatures soared to as high as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit and the wall of flame soared up to one hundred fifty feet high. The heat vortex may have ascended as much as 30,000 feet into the sky. Under the intense heat steel wheels on train cars and the tracks upon which they once ran melted and ran into pools like water seeking its lowest level. Hundreds of lives were consumed by the flames as people frantically tried to outpace the driving firestorm.

Daniel James Brown in his account of the tragedy in Under a Flaming Sky recounts the story of one particularly fortunate group of the endangered from the tiny village of Partridge.

“A few of the villagers commandeered handcars and stated pumping their way up the tracks; others simply ran along the rails behind them. The largest group, though, remaining remarkably clearheaded, set out on a road toward a logging camp where a hundred acres had previously been burned over by another fire. It was three miles away—a long haul—and there was no chance to pause or rest, as a survivor later remembered: ‘All the time the fire was right behind us. The smoke had gathered again and thickened into a grayish-black mass which rolled forward at an incredible speed with a deafening roar, whining and rumbling. We had barely reached our place of refuge when the great wall of smoke behind us split, or rather was flung asunder, and a blood-red flame of fire shot out like a flash of lighting. In a moment, every particle of smoke had disappeared and in its place we saw a sea of fire as far as the eye could scan.’” (p.122)

Jesus echoed the prophets before Him in promising a judgment by fire. On the last day He separate the peoples and “will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41).

Indeed, the end of the Book tells us all, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

But there is hope, for Jesus bore the judgment of God against our sins in His own body on the cross. In those moments the fires of God’s holy wrath swept over Jesus who stood in our place, His death accounted as ours that we might be free.

This act in which Jesus satisfied the just wrath of God against us is called “propitiation.”

  • “Therefore [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
  • Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)
  • “God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25a).

Jesus is the only safe ground from the coming wrath of God. When we flee in faith to Him we find ground where the fiery wrath of God has already burned over and where the fires of judgment will never again be visited. Flee to Jesus and be saved!

Opportunities and Memories

choices

Live wisely today, for you are making tomorrow’s memories. And memories are powerful things, for good or ill.

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” (Prov. 10:7)

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13)

Waiting

waiting

“After God promised to make her husband into a great nation, Sarah waited twenty-five years before she held Isaac in her arms. After God gave Joseph dreams of leading his family, he waited over twenty years before he even saw them again and was able to rescue them from famine. After Moses’ failed attempt to help his oppressed race, he waited forty years before hearing God’s voice call him to lead his people out of slavery. After becoming queen, Esther waited almost twenty-five years before her ‘such a time as this’ moment came and she stood in the gap for her people. After his stunning spiritual encounter, Paul waited more than ten years before he was officially commissioned by the church to the ministry to which we know him today.” (Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous, 171)

Utter Faith

“I will go . . . and if I perish, I perish.”

(Esther 4:16)

These are the words of Esther, queen of Persia and undercover Jew. She was being implored by her cousin Mordecai to go to the king and beg for the lives of her fellow Jews after Haman had hoodwinked the Crown into signing off on their destruction.

Yet Esther reminded her zealous cousin that no one could simply appear in the King’s court uninvited. In fact to do so would likely meet with a death sentence, even for the queen.

Still Mordecai urged her to step forward—for her people, for herself! He used what may be his most familiar words: “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (v.14).

Perhaps like Esther you need a wakeup call, a reminder of who you are, of how Providence has positioned you strategically in life.

Esther sent word to Mordecai to call all God’s people to fast and pray, indicating that she and her maidens would do the same. Then she would step forward—perish or not.

It is not unusual for God to ask us to take a step that seems to go against commonsense and social custom, a step that appears certain to fail or to bring us to ruin. At such times we must fast and pray and ask others to join us. Then the only thing left to us is to obey, to step forward, to step out, to “go,” saying “if I perish, I perish.” If God guides, we must, if we are to walk with Him, do what He requires, placing our fate in His hands.

When was the last time you took such a step? It didn’t have to require the possibility of physical death, but it did require the possibility of “death” to something, or to someone, or to some place.

Faith—I think Peter would agree—is a lot more attractive from the safe confines of the boat rather than on the crest of the waves on the open sea. But that’s the thing—in the boat faith is only a concept, a mere topic of conversation, nothing but an idea to bat around. Faith is only faith when it is in motion. Faith is not faith when we philosophize or theorize or theologize about it. It is only faith when we move.

Recently I listened to two different messages, providing moving accounts of the lives and ministries of two pioneering missionaries: John G. Patton and Adoniram Judson. When I read Esther’s words today, I thought Patton and Judson. Theirs was the same sense of call, “I will go . . . and if I perish, I perish”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It does not have to be to a foreign field, it does not have to be in the face of physical death, but every step of faith requires both risk and resolve.

Can you pray, “O God, I will go . . . and if I perish, I perish”?

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