January: Personal Life
Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual
life, but to neglect communion with God is to hurt ourselves where we
cannot afford it. The Root of the Righteous, page 9
January 6 Personal Life: The Compelling Call For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! --1 Corinthians 9:16 The true minister is one not by his own choice but by the sovereign commission of God. From a study of the Scriptures one might conclude that the man God calls seldom or never surrenders to the call without considerable reluctance. The young man who rushes too eagerly into the pulpit at first glance seems to be unusually spiritual, but he may in fact only be revealing his lack of understanding of the sacred nature of the ministry. The old rule, "Don't preach if you can get out of it," if correctly understood, is still a good one. The call of God comes with an insistence that will not be denied and can scarcely by resisted. Moses fought his call strenuously and lost to the compulsion of the Spirit within him; and the same may be said of many others in the Bible and since Bible times. Christian biography shows that many who later became great Christian leaders at first tried earnestly to avoid the burden of the ministry; but I cannot offhand recall one single instance of a prophet's having applied for the job. The true minister simply surrenders to the inward pressure and cries, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" God Tells the Man Who Cares, 87-88. "Lord, I'm here in this ministry not because I chose to be, but because I've sensed your call on my life. Help me always to be faithful to that call, in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen."
The Story of Abraham and Lot
Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.
So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left."
And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.
And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are-northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you."
Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD.
And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.
And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar-four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."
And he gave him a tithe of all.
Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself."
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich'- except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion."
There are many who say,
"Who will show us any good?"
LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
WISDOMFor the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.
Fragile Clay Jars
Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands.
Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. -- We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. -- The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon us.
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. -- Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. -- Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. PSA. 90:17. Ezek. 16:14. -II Cor.3:18. -I Pet. 4:14. Psa. 128:1,2. -Prov. 16:3. Phi. 2:12,13. II Thes. 2:16,17.
The apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things they had done.
There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. -- The LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. -- Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have re-ceived the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. -- The prayer of the upright is his delight.
MARK 6:30. Prov. 18:24. Exo. 33:11. John 15:14,15. Luke 17:10. Rom. 8:15. Phi. 4:6. Prov. 15:8.
One of the harder jobs I had in Alaska was working fueling Aircraft. The work was fairly easy, the Owner/Boss was a good man, a Mormon, but some of the people I worked for were crooks. Not in your normal sense but in the moral issues of life. Some would have called him a typical business man or entrepreneur. He was always seeking to achieve and make the place I was employed at bigger, better and more prosperous. You could say He was a capitalist and many people might have found him and opportunist.
I knew him as an efficacious man with a desperate loneliness inside that at times bordered on crying out to God. At times we butted heads on issues and maneuvers "inhouse" that often left me in jeopardy for my job, but somehow God would pull me out of the morass of the mess the seemed to be brewing. The mans life was a study of success and failure that made for legends as well as notoriety for the edges of illegality he often walked. Never quite wrong, but never quite right. I suspect He would have made a great politician.
Eventually after I had left the place of business, the man's house of cards came tumbling down on him and everything He had worked for or achieved collapsed. His end of employment there was tragic, his likability could not hide him from the crooked stunts he had pulled, that as often is true in business, was unethical, borderline illegal, and once it fell apart, was immoral. But if they had succeeded NO ONE WOULD HAVE CARED.
God see's. God Hears. God Cares.
God protected me in some wild and woolly work places I was employed in Alaska. In each, for the person I worked for, God prospered the business at the time I was there. In each, after I left, I would read about some disaster that occurred to the business either "cleaning it up" in some way, or eliminating some of the people I may have wanted to help or pray for, but who came after me with a vengeance.
Do you feel at times someone or some situation is out to get you?
Don't. God is using it for your learning, yes. But also He is using you in your situation to reach someone else. Always look for that first and don't worry about yourself. God takes care of you better than you do. You can't improve His care for you, you can only see what He would have you to do. He doesn't give up on you or quit even if you might "turn aside" from Him.
I have had some of the craziest experiences in life, but always and in everything,
God was there.