Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Be Still and Know

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10.  Let me encourage you to read and meditate on this verse in the context of the entire chapter. I don’t need to remind you that we live in a world of constant war, crime, confusion, change, noise, disappointment, frustration and exhaustion.  Christians are constantly  shocked, angered and grieved by the decline of our nation into the cesspool of corruption and that we face the constant threat of terrorist attacks. 

We take pride in our constant busyness. We tend to look down on those who are not as busy as we are. Sometimes we foolishly compare our church with those around us and measure ourselves by whether we have the same activities as they have and whether we are as successful as they are. As Martha in Luke 10:38-42 we become bitter towards other who are not as involved as we are.

We’re like the man in I Kings 20:39-42 who was charged with guarding a prisoner with his life, but let him escape because he was “busy here and there.”  Too often we parents, especially we fathers, get so caught up in our work and other activities that we miss prime opportunities to spend with our children and before we know it they are grown up and gone!  To busy, anxious Christians, God invites us in Psalm 46  to be still and get to know Him.  

Don’t be lazy! 

As Jesus in Luke 2:49, so we ought to be about our Father’s business. Though we’re emphasizing the need to be still before God, we’re not encouraging inactivity and laziness.  Romans 12:11 teaches us to not be slothful in business, but fervently serving the Lord.   Jesus in Matthew 25:24-30  teaches that slothfulness is a sin.  The Christian life is likened to a race and to a warfare.  That’s ACTIVITY;  concentrated activity required to accomplish goals.  

Look at the early church in Acts.  Read of the Apostle Paul and the other apostles.  They were constantly on the go, working to the point of exhaustion.  Paul challenges us to follow his example as He followed Christ.  I Corinthians 11:1   Look at the Thessalonian church in I Thessalonians 1.  Talk about an active church!   What an example they are to all of us! 

Have a restful heart in your service. 

Even in the midst of our busyness, we are to have a restful heart.  The night before Jesus went to the cross,  He encouraged His disciples with wonderful, comforting truths recorded in John 14-17 beginning with  “Let not your heart be troubled.”  The Psalms are filled with encouragement and comfort for those going through discouraging and fearful times.  You know the 23rd Psalm. Camp out in the Psalms. Get to know all the rest of them as well. Turn off your  television with all its noise. Sit down with David in green pastures as he plays his harp and listen to him, a man after God’s own heart, as He shares inspired truth with you in the Psalms. What a wonderful way to come to Christ and find rest for your soul.  

Some of you reading this are still young and life is too exciting and full of fun to take time to spend reading and meditating in God’s Word.  I remind you that God is able to bring difficult circumstances into your life and  help you rearrange your priorities so that you find time for Him.  

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December 12, 2006 Posted by | Be Still | Comments Off on Be Still and Know

Be Still and Grow

We live in an age when Christian parenting and Christian service is equated with feverish, exhausting activity seven days a week. The common thinking is the more activity, the greater our spirituality and service. Years ago I remember hearing a Christian solo sung that contained the phrase “Let me burn out for Thee.”  I’m not convinced that serving Christ needs to result in “burn out”.   I have been serving God for well over fifty years now and so far I have never experienced “burn out”.  To the contrary, I feel invigorated.

There is a tendency in churches to put new converts to work immediately teaching Sunday School classes and serving in church offices.  Of course, we want to see young Christians serving the Lord as soon as they are ready; but we must first give them time to get rooted in the Word of God and start growing.  

Before Jesus sent out His twelve Apostles (sent ones),  He called them to become Disciples (learners).  The best thing a young Christian can do is to become faithful in church attendance and learn to feed on God’s Word in church and in his own private devotional time at home.  In I Peter 2:2 we are urged  “As new born babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that ye may grow.”    

In James 3:1 we are warned not to be too anxious to teach. You may be a gifted, well-trained teacher, but it takes time sitting under the teaching of God’s Word to grasp the message of the Bible, before you are ready to teach it. 

Saul of Tarsus, a trained, educated teacher of the Law of God needed three years of concentrated study with Christ in the Arabian Desert before Christ sent Him out as an Apostle to the Gentiles.  Galatians1:15-24. 

When God created the world, He created trees to grow.  He saved you and me to grow.  We grow as we are planted in a Bible preaching church. Read Psalm 92:12-14. As I write this article we are presently considering  Psalm 46:10 on Sunday evenings. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” 

Growth takes place in quiet times and in quiet places.  As infants nurse quietly at their mother’s breasts, as sheep graze quietly in green pastures and beside still waters, so we must be still to know God.  He speaks to us in a still small voice. I Kings 19:11-13 

Growth takes place slowly, quietly and imperceptibly by degrees.  II Cor. 3:18 teaches us that as we behold the glory of God in our Bible study, the Spirit of God changes us from one degree of glory to another into the image of Christ.  

Growth requires that we make choices and commitments.  Faithfully attending church is a choice we must make week after week.  Reading the Bible and spending time in prayer is a choice we must make each day. Two sisters, Mary and Martha, made choices recorded in Luke 10:42.  Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn while Martha was cumbered about with many house-hold chores.  Martha became disgruntled because her sister would not help her.  Jesus corrected Martha by teaching her that Mary had made the right choice.  Of course, there’s a time and a need to cook and clean the house, but it’s not while you have the opportunity to be taught the Word of God. Those who are taking time to study God’s Word grow: not only in knowledge; but also in the grace of Christ,  II Peter 3:14-18 teaches us.  

Look again at Psalm 46: 6  and  note that while we believers are learning to be still and know God,  the heathen are raging all around.  While we are passionately loving God and His Word, the heathen are passionately raging against Christ and those who belong to Him.  That is so obvious in
America, is it not?  There are those in this nation who have no agenda or purpose in life but to rage against Christ and against those leaders  who love Him.  

 

We see the contrast again in Psalm 1 and 2.  In chapter 1 Christians are likened to fruitful trees planted by rivers.  The ungodly are likened to chaff blown away by the wind. 

In chapter 2 we see the heathen raging against God.  Whereas Christians are passionate in their love for God,  the heathen are passionate in their hatred of God and of those who belong to God.  Only when we are passionate about God and living for Him and doing His will, is passion a good emotion. Certainly that would include a passionate love for our God-given spouse and family.  All other passions may possibly crowd God out of our lives.   Music, sports, hobbies, entertainment, and anything else that consumes us can be sinful.  To have an interest  in these things is not sinful.  To spend some time and money in these interests is not sinful.   These interests only become sinful when they become our passion. You see, passion is so intense that it tends to crowd God out of our lives. Thus, passion for anything or anyone before God  becomes idolatry. 

For what or for whom are you passionate? 

December 11, 2006 Posted by | Be Still | Comments Off on Be Still and Grow

Be Still and Glow

All of you have had the WOW!!! experiences at some time in your life: hopefully, everyday of your life: standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and being hushed by its size and ever-changing colors, hiking in the wilderness and viewing spectacular scenes,  standing on the sea shore and watching the pounding surf, lying on your back out under the stars at night and trying to fathom the immensity of the universe,  or studying  the clouds during a lazy afternoon, or just sitting quietly in your backyard and watching the birds feed from the wild flower seeds, or be dazzled by the fireworks show of an afternoon lightening storm, or watching the sun rise each morning and set each evening, or looking deeply into the eyes of your new born baby and trying to grasp the wonder of the gift a loving God has just given you.  Isn’t God wonderful to give us these daily benefits, if we just pause long enough to be still and enjoy them?  “The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3    

In each of these experiences your thoughts should turn to God and silently worship Him who made it all. Be still and notice that all God’s creation glows with His glory.  Read Psalm 19:1-6 as David, the shepherd, experienced God’s glory  as he quietly watched over his flock of sheep each day and night. 

Romans 1:20 announces to us that any man or woman, observing the wonderful creation of God, has to be convinced that there is an amazing, powerful, loving God who made it all and who made me and before whom I will one day stand and give an account of how I have lived my life and how I have treated Him who gave me life.  To think otherwise is utter insanity and dangerous!  

The Shekinah Glory  

 In Old Testament times, Israel experienced daily the Shekinah glory of God; a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  It hovered over the Ark of the Covenant within the  Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, assuring Israel that God was with them, guiding and protecting them.  Later when Israel lived in Canaan, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and took it away,  Eli, the elderly, overweight priest fell backward, breaking his neck and his daughter-in law, who had just had a baby boy, called him Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed”. You can read the full story in the fourth chapter of I Samuel    The idea is that when God’s glory is missing, life is totally empty. There’s nothing in life for which to be joyful.  Back in 1953 I played the piano in The Harbour of Light Rescue Mission one summer on the Pittsburgh Northside.  A favorite of the men was a song written by John Newton, an English captain of a slave ship, converted to Christ about 1750.  “How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours”   

 How tedious and tasteless the hours 

When Jesus no long I see.

Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers

Have all lost their sweetness to me.

The midsummer sun shines but dim,

The fields strive in vain to look gay,

But when I am happy with Him,

December’s as pleasant as May. 

************

His name yields the richest perfume,

And sweeter than music His voice,

His presence disperses my gloom

And makes all within me rejoice.

I should, were He always thus nigh,

Have nothing to wish or to fear.

No mortal so happy as I,

My summer would last all the year. 

************

Content with beholding His face,

My all to His pleasure resigned,

No changing of seasons or place

Would make any change in my mind.

While blessed with the sense of His love

A palace, a toy would appear,

And prisons would palaces prove,

If Jesus would dwell with me there. 

 ************

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,

If Thou art my sun and my song,

Say, why do I languish and pine,

And why are my winters so long?

Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky.

Thy soul cheering presence restore;

Oh, take me unto Thee on high,

Where winter and clouds are no more. 

We beheld His glory. 

When Jesus walked this earth John remarked about Jesus, the eternal Word of God,  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 His glory was not the pomp and glory of a king, but the glory of His quiet ministry of salvation and healing.  When one see the glory of Christ, it ought to cause us to stop and take notice.  See the story of Jesus transfiguration in Luke 9:28-32   Read my article entitled “Don’t Miss It”  under the  TRANSFIGURATION link on this web site. 

  Stephen, one of the first deacons of the church, saw the glory of God as he was being stoned to death for preaching the Gospel.  Saul of Tarsus saw that glory in the face of Stephen as he died.  He never forgot it and later after his conversion, he became Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Read of that glory in Stephens life in Acts 6 and 7. 

You and I can experience God’s glory in our lives.  Jesus promised to give us that glory as He prayed with His disciples in the hours before His arrest, trial and crucifixion. Read it in John 17:22-24  How can we have that glory?   It comes by degrees as we spend time reading and meditating in His Word.  II Corinthians 3:18 explains that as we look into the mirror of God’s Word and see God’s glory on every page,  we are transformed by the Holy Spirit until the beauty of Christ is seen in our lives.  Albert Osborn wrote this chorus we used to sing as kids, 

“Let the  beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All His wonderful passion and purity.

Oh, Thou Spirit divine,All my nature refine,

Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” 

May you experience the light of His glory daily walking with Jesus. 

Be still and know Him.

Be still and grow in Him.

Be still and glow with His glory. 

December 10, 2006 Posted by | Be Still | Comments Off on Be Still and Glow

Be Still and Show

The raging maniac was wandering through the cemetery naked,  bound by ropes, but breaking them with his super-natural strength. Luke 8:26-40 tells the story of how Jesus found him and cast out the demons that were tormenting him. Later the town’s people found him clothed and sane, sitting still at the feet of Jesus and learning. The people feared and begged Jesus to leave their area.  Isn’t that amazing?  While the demoniac was out of his head, the people could live with that; but when he was clothed and normal, it was more than the people could take. Their attitude towards Jesus  was irrational.    So our world under the domination of Satan is irrational and has gone mad. Jeremiah 51:7  Sin is glorified.  What a contrast it is to observe genuine Christians living peaceful, quiet, productive lives studying God’s Word in direct contrast to this noisy, sin-maddened world where there is no peace or sanity. 

If we claim to be  Christians we are advertisements for Christ.  We are His walking billboard. Let us  make sure that our testimony does not appear to be a weird disease that everyone wants to avoid.  If we are the Christians that we ought to be, Christ is going to increase in our lives and we are going to decrease.  That was John the Baptist’s motto in John 3:30.  This former maniac was so glad to be free of his demons and Jesus had become such a wonderful friend to him that he did not want Jesus to ever leave him again.  But Jesus had more work to do.  There were other needy people who needed Him, so He commanded his new Christian friend to go back to his town and share with his family and friends what God had done for him.   After he had sat quietly at Jesus’ feet learning, it was now time for him to go back home and demonstrate to those  who knew him  best what Jesus had done for him.  The new convert did as he was told and went back home to those who  knew him. They immediately saw the change. 

If we claim to be a Christians, but our lives show no evidence of the supernatural change Jesus makes,  it would be better for us to keep our mouths shut about Jesus.  We will only bring dishonor to His name.  Before you attempt to tell others about Jesus, make sure your life is backing up what you are saying.   Note how this story ends in verse 40.   This transformed man had evidenced such a changed life that when Jesus finally arrived in his city, the whole town gladly received Christ.  This world needs to see more show and tell genuine Christians clothed in their right minds.

December 9, 2006 Posted by | Be Still | Comments Off on Be Still and Show

Be Still then Go

COME APART OR YOU WILL COME APART 

John the Baptist had been beheaded for faithfully confronting Herod with his sin. The  disciples, despondent and fearful, came to Jesus for comfort. They were all emotionally drained and physically exhausted.  It was at that time, recorded in Mark 6:31, that Jesus invited them to come apart to a desert and rest awhile.  As has been said, There comes a time in our lives when we must “come apart or we will end up coming apart.” 

In God’s sovereignty, even when we are exhausted and feel we need to take a break or a vacation, God will often bring needy people into our lives.  That’s what happened here, just when the disciples were so busy.  No sooner did Jesus encourage His disciples to come apart for some rest and refreshments, when they found themselves surrounded by needy people again.  It was this way throughout Jesus’  ministry and it will be that way throughout our ministries,   Though we may not be able to escape pressures that cause stress; in the midst of it all, we can be still and know that God is in full control.  Our need is not as much for rest from responsibilities, as it is for a restful heart in the midst of our responsibilities.  

God sends us to the needy with the promise of His presence Matthew 28:19-20, ” go… and lo I am with you always.” He promises us His power Acts 1:8,”ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”   We are given the promise of His protection  II Timothy 4:17-18 “Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto His Heavenly Kingdom.”  Finally, we are given His promise of success. Psalm 126:5-6. “He that goes forth, weeping, bearing precious Seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” 

Let us be aware of those times when we feel worried, anxious, agitated, upset and burdened down with more than we can handle.  That’s a signal for us to be still, take time to get into the Word of God, listen to Him speak to us and cry to Him for help. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7  “be anxious about nothing, but in every situation by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known unto God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding shall keep and guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

THE MOST WONDERFUL LESSON I EVER LEARNED AS A YOUNG CHRISTIAN 

I conclude this mini-series on learning to be still by calling  your attention to Hebrews chapters 3 and 4. I encourage you to take time to read and meditate on these two wonderful, life-changing chapters. Here the writer of Hebrews reminds us of Israel’s journey in the wilderness when Moses led them out of Egypt, headed to the land of Canaan which God had promised Abraham and his seed.  

As they neared the land at Kadesh Barnea,  Moses sent twelve spies to search out the land. The story is found in Numbers 13 & 14.  Ten of the spies returned with a discouraging report of giants in the land.  They advised the people to not attempt entering the land.  It was too dangerous.   Two of the twelve spies,  Caleb and Joshua, came back with an encouraging report. In spite of the giants, with God’s help they could enter the land which the writer of Hebrews refers to in Hebrews 3:11 and throughout chapters 3 and 4  as “My rest”. 

The lesson for Christians in these two chapters is that when God saves us, delivering us from the bondage of Satan.  His purpose is not to leave us wandering in a wilderness of defeat and despair, but to lead us on into a life of victory over sin.  He’s not referring to a life of sinless perfection.  That won’t happen until we are in Heaven.  Those who believe it is possible to live a life of sinless perfection in this life are deceiving themselves, we learn in  I John 1:8-10. Though we will not achieve perfection in this life, we can have hearts that are perfect towards God. II Chronicles 16:9 

The Christian life is described as a race in Hebrews 12  and as a warfare against Satan in Ephesians 6.   But Hebrews 3 and 4 teaches us that in this race and in this struggle we can enjoy the REST of the crucified life.  Here are the facts from Galatians 2:20  and Romans 6   

1. I have been crucified with Christ.  When He hung on that cross it was as though I was hanging there.  He hung there in my place. 

2. I have been buried with Christ.  When He was buried in the tomb it was as though I was buried with Him. 

3. When He arose from the dead three days later and left that tomb, it was as though I rose with Him to walk in resurrection power. 

This is the resting life that every Christian can enjoy even in the midst of the challenges and struggles of this life.   Spend as much time as it takes in  Hebrews 3 and 4  and Romans 6, Galatians 2:20 and II Corinthians 12:9.   Read them and meditate on them until you grasp the victorious life of rest that awaits you.   Then and only then will you be able to move forward through life on eagle wings talked about in Isaiah 40:28-31, accomplishing all that He has planned for you to accomplish and resting in Christ all the way.   That’s what it means to “Be still and know that I am God.”  My prayer for you is that you will enter this life of rest and victory by faith and discover what Paul was writing about in II Corinthians 12:9  “God’s strength in your weakness.”

December 8, 2006 Posted by | Be Still | Comments Off on Be Still then Go