Thursday, January 14, 2016

Is it Scripture or is it Shakespeare?

     Christian, know thy Bible well. We ought not to be quoting Shakespeare when we mean to quote Scripture. Use the following poem written by Mr. Shakespeare to find the sayings often attributed to our Bible. Compare these to the actual Scripture. Then, find the Scriptural principles expressed and list them with a good Scripture reference teaching the principle.

Summer, 2015
This Above All

And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,
but do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched unfledged comrade. Beware of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't, that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Desperately Dependent

--Christian, you can do nothing of eternal value without Him. You ARE dependent upon Him for any moving of the Spirit in your heart, your home, your life. You ARE dependent upon His Word to give you wisdom, to guide your steps and to change your thinking. Acknowledge this humbly before Him and joyously await His moving in your life.--

Desperate and dependent. Two words that run very contrary to our human nature. Naturally, I strive for independence: “I can do this, and I will do it my way.” Christian, beware: To be dependent is contrary to my natural being; to be independent is to be contrary to my God.

Dependent: “To be subject to the power of and at the disposal of another; not able to exist or sustain itself without the will or power of another,” is perhaps the scariest position of all for mankind. To be “unable to sustain (myself) without the aid of (another)” is precisely why we look for that first job, obtain that college degree, and learn the many things necessary to “make it on our own.” It is the common mindset that dependency is appropriate for children and the elderly, but definitely not for me. It is a state of being that is to be fought against until one can defy it no longer; and at that point, death is the preferred option.

In like despised manner, desperation is felt in times of hopelessness; in those times when we’ve been spent and have no option but to turn for outside help. The very word “desperately” carries with it tones of disregarding danger or safety; a careless, uncontrolled state of mind. Fighting desperately for a lost cause, or falling desperately in love…sounds to me like a precarious place to live, like a state of mind I hope not to visit very often.

Live as you want and believe what you will, the fact remains that we are dependent beings. As the leaf hangs down from the branch, so too our fragile life precariously clings in total dependence to the Branch. We observe the two year old as she screams, “I can do it myself!” while futilely trying to push the weighty bureau out of the way to retrieve a lost trinket, thinking she needs no assistance, so too our Father looks on us with pity as He waits to hear our humble cry for help.

Fighting, always fighting are we. Why is the truth so hard to realize? “Without Me ye can do nothing.” For life, for breath, for the very next beat of my heart, I need Thee, dear Lord. Yea, truly, I need Thee every hour. Submission to His commandments and to unforeseeable circumstances that arise, seem to me to be on a different level from this total submission to Him: this way of thinking, this way of worshiping Him with my thoughts and my actions each and every day; this total yielding of who I am to Who He is and who He wants me to be.

Each fresh, new day finds new choices that lay before us. The battle of life ceases at death and, until then, it rages anew every morning within our naturally defiant breast: shall I begin my day with Him, or will I be asserting my independence yet again? Will I willingly confess to Him this day that, vain is the help of man and spread my cause out before Him or will I lean upon my own understanding? 

The battle begins in the mind. It all starts with the thought that, “I need no one for I am able.” Submission begins with the acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence. Acknowledgment occurs in the mind and actions follow. The mind is precisely where fear begins, as well. What a dreadful battlefield we hold within our very being. How close the battle rages! 

To acknowledge my desperate dependence on my heavenly Father is the beginning of a grand and glorious state of being, a most productive way of living. “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee…” — Dependent on the very hand of God! 

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” –Held by Him Who will never fail! 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” -Laying our future at the feet of One Who plans for our good, not for our failure and defeat!

The opposite of desperate dependence is the casual attitude of bringing God along with you as you move through your life, knowing He’s there to assist if you really need Him. For example, death, major accidents, big decisions, health issues, a teen that has strayed…you know, the big things that we certainly want God in the middle of.

How contrary this attitude is to desperate dependence! “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” In choosing to be desperately dependent, I see the riches available to me and realize that my wilderness scavenging has produced nothing but thistles and thorns, a dearth of satisfaction and a thirst unquenchable.

My way is sorely lacking in substance and value. On the contrary, His plan, His way, though yet to be understood, is by far the fairer way because He is in this way and with Him there is light and good and love.  His mountains to climb will bring us to the higher ground. His cross to bear is the reasonable sacrifice we are to carry and place at His feet with contented and humble cries of, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

Says Hannah Whitall Smith, “Meet His measureless devotion for you with a measureless devotion to Him. Be glad and eager to throw yourself unreservedly in His loving arms, and to hand over the reins of government to Him.” “Perfect obedience would be perfect happiness, if only we had perfect confidence in the power we were obeying.” (Unknown)

If only we knew Him?! If only we could trust Him?! How absurd! “Closer to thee than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet”, says Tennyson of our God. He who has made thee whole; He who has wrought new life in you and placed His very Spirit within you; He Who has promised to guide thee with His eye, is the same One who holds the stars in place and sets each runner in his race and has made His abode with you. Devoted He is to us, and evermore devoted we should be to Him.

I challenge you to speak to your Father about becoming desperately dependent on Him. Cease the wandering; crave the tangible presence of the Saviour. Place yourself in that humble, needy position every morning and beg Him to be still nearer to you. Move not without His prompting and speak not without His grace. Beg for His presence to be felt through your being. Hand Him the reins, your heart, your plans and your passions; for safe are they with Him. And blessed you will be for having laid your precious bits in His hand. He will take your squandered time, your splintered works, your disfigured plans, your fragments of beauty, and your shattered hopes, and will make all things new for you. Disappointed you cannot be, for He promises you He’ll give you, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that (you) might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.”

Christian, you can do nothing of eternal value without Him. You ARE dependent upon Him for any moving of the Spirit in your heart, your home, your life. You ARE dependent upon His Word to give you wisdom, to guide your steps and to change your thinking. Acknowledge this humbly before Him and joyously await His moving in your life.

Purposefully choose desperate dependence; your life will never be the same. May this phrase ring in your ears until it becomes your song. 

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Revelation 4:11