Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.
[Psalm 37:7-8 NKJV]
Do not fret — it only causes harm, says the Psalmist. To fret is to be anxious and continually worry over a problem or a situation. And it causes harm; not only to our own health and well-being, but also to those around us. It is said that bad news travels faster; and so it is with fretfulness — we only have to see the dramatic rise in mental health issues during this plague year to understand that the pandemic affects not only those who have contracted the virus but many of us who have not.
In Psalm 37 the word is used to denote anger, literally to burn, or to melt. This is often a response to fear-inducing circumstances. When startled or frightened our first reaction is often an angry one.
But Psalm 37 encourages us to rest in The Lord and wait patiently for Him. Not always an easy thing to do — impossible maybe by our own efforts, but with patience (because you have kept My command to persevere - Revelation 3:10 NKJV) and understanding ... and The Holy Spirit’s help, resting in Him becomes easier — retraining our fears into spiritual rest. He will do it.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [Isaiah 41:10 NKJV]
“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
How much evil has begun to threaten you today?
What kind of mean little imps have been looking in and saying; “Now what are you going to do next month — this summer?” “Be anxious for nothing,” Jesus says. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “Much more of your Heavenly Father.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
[2 Timothy 3:12-17 NKJV]
Yesterday morning as I prepared to walk our small excitable Jack Russell terrier, I felt that the top of my head needed protecting from the increasing cold as Winter approaches, so I put on my favourite head-warming hat and went out on the walk. All during the walk and up until now, the expression ‘wearing Horace’s hat’ has recurred with an insistence that I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit.
In a sense it is a second-hand (or second-head) hat, as it originally belonged to a dear man of God, who we were more than blessed to know for some years until The Lord took him home. His story is an amazing one — too long for a short meditation like this — but it is one that should be told in time. It is an inspiring testimony and tells of a man who found a deep abiding faith, overcame many obstacles (not the least of which was being unable to read), pastored a church in Cambridge and went on to be a mainstay in a Christian community in Ireland, where he was known locally and with respect and affection as “The Horace”.
He was, without doubt, a man of God, and someone who, by his example and advice helped deepen my own faith and those of any who knew him. He had a quality that is essential in any man of God; that of always pointing away from himself and towards Jesus Christ.
The scripture reading today seems so relevant to this dear saint. He continued in the things which he had learned and been assured of; and he was most emphatic about the one from whom he had learned. To me, he seemed ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work’
He is not alone among those who have been guides and mentors in this walk of faith; there have been ‘a fair few’ over the years, but I am always glad when I bring him to mind, and proud to be ‘wearing Horace’s hat’.
“What I tell you in darkness” — watch where God puts you in darkness, and when you are there, keep your mouth shut.
When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a precious message for someone else when you get into the light.
Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.
For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
[2 Corinthians 2:8-11 NKJV]
This is what I read this morning from Oswald Chambers’ “Devotions For A Deeper Life” :
Let me share a very puzzling situation. You have all had experiences, I’m sure, in which people listened to clear Bible teaching, but failed to enter the kingdom of God. Yet, before that same congregation, a speaker gets up and shares a rambling testimony and—to your astonishment—people are born again.
I have attended the City Mission in New York City several times, for example, and I have never once heard correct biblical teaching there. But recently, I heard a man who had been wonderfully saved get up and tell what he was and what he had been. Then four or five others did this too. The Spirit of God got hold of the people in the congregation. Before I knew it, people went to the altar.
These rough men knelt down and prayed with them, and the seekers “struck something,” as they say there. Something struck them!
I have been ‘much exercised’ as we sometimes say, in what Our Lord is doing in this hour — in this time of testing and trial. It occurred to me that it is always a time of testing; life is a continual struggle. It has it’s joys and sadnesses, triumphs and tragedies for sure, but that is not in the centre of us. What is our core and character? Some preachers have talked of having “a Jesus-shaped hole” in that centre, something which can still be there, even if we purport to be believers. There can be a block in letting Jesus fill us with His heavenly presence, and the block can be needing to ‘empty ourselves of ourselves’ first.
How is that accomplished? Paul suggests the way, and that is to reaffirm your love to Jesus. All flows from that one basic premise. But that love needs to be tested — tried in the fire of adversity and struggle, to eliminate the block. That love and passion for Jesus must be backed by obedience to Him in the spirit of forgiveness.
What this comes down to in the end — and where Oswald Chambers found a very puzzling situation — is a deep abiding relationship with Jesus. It is not about teaching, or learning how to follow a set of rules; it is being obedient in all things.
The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being this dominated because I have yielded.
If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame for it because at a point, away back, I yielded myself to myself. Likewise, if I obey God, I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.
And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.”
[2 Kings 13:17 NKJV]
This is another of these Bible phrases that grabs my attention — the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance. This whole passage in 2 Kings is about the death of Elisha and his final message to the King of Israel.
An arrow is an instrument of conflict which pierces the body and wounds or kills. It requires a skilled archer to wield it effectively. Elisha in his last moments proclaims that it brings deliverance — salvation. The Lord’s deliverance — in this case — from Syria, which from its name represents an exalted place, and furthermore, at Aphek, meaning a self-contained fortress.
This would suggest that in his final pronouncement, Elisha was raging (for he was angry) against pride and arrogance — self-exaltation.
Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped.
And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”
[2 Kings 13:18-19 NKJV]
Elisha knew that our pride is likely the last thing in us to go — if at all! We must persevere in our dedication work to ensure that we destroy pride completely. We cannot stop until the job is done — without being half-hearted about it.
This leaves us with Elisha’s command to “Open the east window.” A window is an opening in a wall that lets in the light — and a window to the east reveals the sunrise; the light of a new day dawning. Only when the light of The Lord shines can we see salvation.
The greatest note of triumph that ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the cross of Christ — “It is finished.” That is the last word in the redemption of man.
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
[Titus 3:1-6 NKJV]
A demonstration of a pure Christian life and heart is humility. What is that exactly? Titus links it with a peaceable gentle and obedient spirit. And such it is, and no doubt it is obvious to mention that it is the Christlike spirit which fills that description exactly.
Humility has no vestige of pride or arrogance in it; it is ‘without self’, if I can put it that way. The dictionary describes it as low self regard and a sense of unworthiness, but I have known of arrogant people who have been puffed up with pride and yet have such a deep feeling of unworthiness that it has become worthlessness; thus the actuality is not clear cut. It never is where the human heart is concerned, which is why it has to be Christ who gives the answer.
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. [Hebrews 3:18-19 NKJV]
The book of Hebrews has in Chapter 4, a magnificent treatise on entering His rest — and what is gentleness and peace if it is not rest? And as we see, entering His rest is a matter for our obedience.