Most Excellent Way

Using Paul’s teaching on love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Glenn confronts the humanistic love that has defined the human race since Adam’s fall. Paul exquisitely defined the primary components of humanistic love and by doing so was able to define true love as defined by God. Why do marriages break down? Why are there church fights? Why are many people repulsed by some people who call themselves Christian? Because we live out a selfish, humanistic love that is destructive. Learn what true love is according to God’s definition and how we can live that out through God’s grace.

Obedience

Obedience is mandatory for anyone who claims to be a real Christian. Glenn presses this idea home in this sermon by pointing out that from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation obedience is a nonnegotiable part of the faith. Disobedience brings judgment, obedience God blessing, the greatest of which is His nearness. Listen to this message on your knees and cry out to God to help you learn the joy of obeying our good and loving God.

The Blessings of Suffering

Suffering is a reality that we wish never existed.  We flee from its sight, are repulsed by its touch and sickened with its embrace.  Seemingly out of nowhere it assaults us as a venomous snake attempting to fill our hearts and minds with its deadly poison. It wraps itself around us, trying to squeeze the life out of us.  We want to be free from its clutches, free from its influence, free from its pain.  But we can’t, for it is a part of us, a byproduct of what we are and an integral part of our fallen world. We are both its creator and its victim.

Suffering exposes our true character—what we are on the inside. Either it reveals the beauty of a Christlike character or brings to light the ugliness of our sinful nature.  Suffering can bring out of us those wicked attitudes and actions that we thought were long dead or reveal dimensions of our character we never knew existed. Even Saint Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom 7:24).

Fortunately, in the midst of our pain there is purpose.  Divine purpose!  The Lord uses suffering to conform us into the “image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). The Great Physician will skillfully use His scalpel to cut out of us the evil that is so interwoven into our nature. But we must yield to His handiwork and surrender to His will or we will suffer under the ravages of our unconquered characters.

Suffering is no respecter of persons.  It crosses all economic, religious and racial lines.  We live in an unsafe world and suffering brings this truth home.  Pride and self-will are attacked by the mighty blows that suffering inflicts.  If we are wise, we will learn from our pain.  If we are foolish, we will rebel against the good that suffering can afford.

Unfortunately, most western Christians approach the subject of suffering from a secular worldview. When we make happiness and prosperity the prize of our existence then suffering is only a cruel obstacle. We desperately need to have a biblical worldview that compels us to live surrendered lives to Christ. Then we will find the blessings that come out of suffering. As we journey through life’s valleys we can find profound comfort knowing that Jesus can turn our mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11-12; KJV).

Listed below are just a few of the blessings that come out of suffering.

SALVATION

Most people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through suffering. When life is going well we ignore our spiritually bankrupt condition. Only when the raw truth of our sin pierces our hard hearts will we will receive God’s gift of repentance. It usually takes a strong dose of pain and suffering to bring us to our knees. We must be convinced that we need saving before we will seek the Savior.

The Lord also uses suffering as a tool to drive His wayward children home. This is a great kindness. To forsake our “first love” means we have played the spiritual whore (Rev. 2:4). The moment we cease to passionately seek after the Lord we start loving gods of our own making. Then the Spirit begins to convict us through the Word. If we refuse to listen to the Lord’s sweet call then He will amplify the voices of the Word and Spirit with suffering. The prodigal son would have never returned home to his father had he not severely suffered over his backsliding.

DRAWING CLOSER TO JESUS

The greatest way in which our characters are transformed is by sitting at Jesus’ feet, nurturing a passion to be with Him and to be like Him. But before we will fully surrender to Jesus we must come to see our desperate neediness. At times this can be a painful process as L. E. Maxwell points out:

You must learn by kindness or by terror.  God’s sword of providence may be laid successively to every tie that binds you to self and sin.  Wealth, and health, and friends, may fall before that sword.  The inward fabric of your life will go to pieces.  Your joy will depart.  Smitten within and without, burned and peeled and blasted, you may finally, amidst the dreadful baptism, be driven from the sinful inconsistency of living for yourself.  You may at length be disposed to yield self over to the victory and undoing of Calvary.

In this divine work of delivering us from our natural propensity to rebellion and self-absorption we find the infinite blessing of Christ and His nearness.

Hearts filled with love for God will discover that suffering only presses them deeper into His love. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, learned this truth. As the Mission grew so did the trials. Eventually Mr. Taylor had to trust the Lord for the financial needs of almost a thousand missionaries. He wrote to a friend, “My path is far from easy. . . It is well, that it should be so. Difficulties afford a platform upon which He can show Himself.  Without them we could never know how tender, faithful and almighty our God is.”

Mr. Taylor turned his trials into blessings by seeking hard after the Savior. It was the matchless love of Christ that captured his heart. The struggles of life should press us deeper into His presence, never away from Him. When we wholeheartedly seek our Precious Savior we will surely find Him though hardships and sufferings abound or the devil and the world do their worst.

Paul had a burning passion to “know Christ” (Phil. 3:10). His desire was not obscured with worthless fantasies about financial prosperity or vain illusions about fleeting happiness. He knew all too well that to intimately know Jesus meant to fellowship with Him in His sufferings. Too many Christians today know Christ only superficially because they do not want to pay the price to build a deep relationship with the Lord. But there is a type of suffering associated with knowing Christ in a deep manner. David Brainerd called it a “pleasing pain that makes my soul press after God.”

BUILDING CHRIST’S CHURCH

Jesus loves His church! He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own” (Titus 2:14). All true Christians are called be co-laborers with Christ in building and nurturing His kingdom. We are not called to criticize it or tear it down, but to build it. Paul labored with all that was in him to build Christ’s church. This same call and responsibility rests upon our shoulders today.

It’s costly to build Christ’s kingdom in a hostile world. If we are not willing to suffer then our Lord’s church will not be built. The truth lies naked before our eyes—we are failing our Lord; His church is shrinking in America because we are unwilling to suffer in order to build it. Scores of self-proclaimed Christians have a hard time attending church once a week, much less giving their lives to build Christ’s kingdom. Their self-absorbed lifestyles are contrary to what it means to be a biblical Christian.

The Lord warned Israel through Haggai saying, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Hag. 1:7). Why did the rebuke come? Because the people were building their own houses while God’s “house remains a ruin” (Hag. 1:4). Are we any different today? Was not the prophet also speaking directly to the church of the 21st century? But are we listening?

The Lord is speaking the same rebuke to us, “‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house’” (Hag. 1:9). Like Israel, we have become a self-absorbed people thinking that happiness comes through the pursuit of our own desires. We have failed to recognize the privilege of suffering to build the kingdom of God—I will even go further—of laying down our lives for the Savior.

REACHING THE LOST

Another reason we are called to suffer with Jesus is to perpetuate His mission to rescue the perishing (Pr. 24:11-12; Lk. 19:10).  The early church was a wonderful example of the value suffering plays in reaching non-believers. “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:16). After the entire crowd was healed the high priests and all their associates were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and threw them in jail.

That night the Lord sent an angel to open the prison doors so they could continue ministering (Acts 5:19). At daybreak they preached in the temple courts. The religious leaders were astonished when someone said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people” (Acts 5:25). Notice that when they got out of jail they did not cower in a corner or start complaining over their suffering.

Whether we are thrown into jail, beaten with rods or rejected by family and friends, it is costly to be a witness for Jesus. The suffering we experience may be great or minuscule, but it will always be worth it when seen in light of Calvary. The sacrifice of our money, possessions, time and the pursuit of pleasure is a small price to pay to win the unsaved to Christ. Let us not stand before the Lord filled with worthless excuses of why we did not spend our lives in rescuing a perishing world. At the judgment seat of Christ our excuses will be seen as nothing other than cowardice, pride and self-absorption.

HOLINESS

Suffering is one of the tools Jesus uses to mold our character to be like His own. This is why Paul included suffering into his discourse on the maturing process of every believer. He told us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4). For suffering to help mold our character for good we must learn how to live a surrendered life to Christ.

Our attempts at avoiding suffering may actually cause us to fight against the only One who can genuinely help us in our time of need. Victory is available through God’s grace when we submit to His will, face our trials head on and then crucify everything in our lives that is contrary to Christ. Instead of whining and complaining when we suffer we ought to be asking the Lord to use these trials to make us more like Him.

When we suffer it’s extremely important to keep our eyes on Jesus, and not upon ourselves, or we will feed our natural inclination towards self-absorption. We need to have a right understanding of eternity so our hope will not rest in those things that “moth and rust destroy” (Mt. 6:19). This thought moved Paul to state, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

Remember, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7). If we live selfish lives then we will reap the consequences of our wickedness both in this life and in the one to come. However, when we suffer for Jesus we will also reap what we sow. Our Wonderful Savior will never abandon His own. He will walk with us through our suffering and wait at death’s door to take us home. Jesus is not slow to reward those who love Him supremely. He will be our “exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1, KJV).

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

The Men God Has Used by Horatius Bonar

Let us look for a little at the instruments and their success. Let us note their character and contemplate their success. They were men of like passions as we are, yet how marvelously blest in their labors! Whence, then, came their vast success? What manner of men were they? What weapons did they employ?

THEY WERE IN EARNEST ABOUT THE GREAT WORK OF THE MINISTRY ON WHICH THEY HAD ENTERED

They felt their infinite responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God, and shepherds appointed by the Chief Shepherd to gather in and watch over souls. They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung. Everything they did and spoke bore the stamp of earnestness, and proclaimed to all with whom they came into contact that the matters about which they had been sent to speak were of infinite moment, admitting of no indifference, no postponement even for a day. Yet their fervor was not that of excitement; it was the steadfast, tranquil purpose of men who felt the urgency and weight of the cause entrusted to them, and who knew that necessity was laid upon them, yea, woe was unto them if they preached not the gospel. They felt that, as ministers of the gospel they dared not act otherwise; they dared not throw less than their whole soul into the conflict; they dared not take their ease or fold their arms; they dared not be indifferent to the issue when professing to lead on the hosts of the living God against the armies of the prince of darkness.

THEY WERE BENT UPON SUCCESS

It was with a good hope of success that they first undertook the awful (full of awe; reverential) office of the ministry, and to despair of this would have been shameful distrust of Him who had sent them forth, while to be indifferent to it would have been to prove themselves nothing short of traitors to Him and to His cause. As warriors, they set their hearts on victory, and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head. As shepherds, they could not sit idle on the mountainside in the sunshine, or the breeze, or the tempest, heedless of their straying, perishing, bleating flock. They watched, gathered, guarded, fed the sheep committed to their care.

THEY WERE MEN OF FAITH

They ploughed and sowed in hope. They might sometimes go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, yet these were the tears of sorrow and compassion, not of despair; they knew that in due season they would reap if they fainted not, that their labor in the Lord would not be in vain, and that ere long they would return bringing their sheaves with them. They had confidence in the God whose they were and whom they served, knowing that He would not send them on this warfare on their own charges. They had confidence in the Savior whose commission they bore, and on whose errands they were gone forth. They had confidence in the promises of glorious success with which He had armed and comforted them. They had confidence in the Holy Spirit’s almighty power and grace, as the glorifier of Christ, the testifier of His work, and the quickener of dead souls. They had confidence in the Word, the gospel, the message of reconciliation which they proclaimed, knowing that it could not return void to Him who sent it forth. Thus they went forth in faith and confidence, anticipating victory, defying enemies, despising obstacles, and “counting not their lives dear unto them that they might finish their course with joy”.

THEY WERE MEN OF LABOR

They were required to bear the burden and heat of the day. It might be truly said of them that “they scorned delights and lived laborious days”. Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul: time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed, they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing, joyfully, thankfully, surrendering all to Him who loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood— regretting only this that they had so little, so very little to give up for Him who for their sakes had freely given Himself! They knew by experience something of what the apostle testifies concerning himself to the Corinthian Church. They knew what it was to be “in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness”. They had no time for levity, or sloth, or pleasure, or idle companionship. They rose before dawn to commence their labors, and the shades of evening found them, though wearied and fainting, still toiling on. They labored for eternity, and as men who knew that time was short and the day of recompense at hand.

THEY WERE MEN OF PATIENCE

They were not discouraged, though they had to labor long without seeing all the fruit they desired. They continued still to sow. Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil. They were not soon weary in well-doing, remembering the example of the husbandman in regard to his perishable harvest: “Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain.”

Many a good plan has been rendered abortive by impatience. Many a day of toil has been thrown away by impatience. Many a rash step has been taken and hasty changes adopted in consequence of impatience. Attempts have been made to force on a revival by men who were impatient at the slow progress of the work in their hand; and seldom have these ended in anything but calamitous failure, or at best a momentary excitement which scorched and sterilized a soil from which a little more patient toil would have reaped an abundant harvest.

THEY WERE MEN OF BOLDNESS AND DETERMINATION

Adversaries might contend and oppose, timid friends might hesitate, they pressed forward, in nothing terrified by difficulty or opposition. Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness, and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens many an enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, or gained by fear. It seems often as if there were a premium upon mere boldness and vigor. Even natural courage and resolution will accomplish much; how much more, courage created and upheld by faith and prayer. In regard, for instance, to the dense masses of ungodliness and profligacy in our large towns, what will ever be effected, if we timidly shrink back, or slothfully fold our hands, because the array is so terrific, and the apparent probabilities of success so slender? Let us be prepared to give battle, though it should be one against ten thousand.

There is needed not merely natural courage in order to face natural danger or difficulty; there is, in our own day, a still greater need of moral boldness, in order to neutralize the fear of man, the dread of public opinion, that god of our idolatry in this last age, which boasts of superior enlightenment, and which would bring everything to the test of reason, or decide it by the votes of the majority. We need strength from above to be faithful in these days of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy—to set our faces like flint alike against the censure and applause of the multitude, and to dare to be singular for righteousness’ sake, and to fight, single-handed, the battles of the faith. The sneer, the scoff, the contemptuous smile of superiority, the cold support, the cordial opposition, the timid friendship, the bold hostility, in private and in public, from lips of companions, or neighbors, or fellow-citizens—and to meet these nothing less than divine grace is needed. Never, perhaps, in any age has wickedness assumed a bolder front and attitude; and never, therefore, was Christian courage more required than now.

Men of the world and mere professors can tolerate the customary routine of ministerial duty; but to step beyond that—to preach and labor in season and out of season—to deal faithfully and closely with men’s consciences—to be always the minister, always the watchman, always the lover of souls—this is to turn the world upside down, to offend against every rule of good breeding, and to tear up the landmarks of civilized society. Ministers and Christians require more than ever to be “strong and of good courage”, to be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”.

THEY WERE MEN OF PRAYER

It is true that they labored much, visited much, studied much, but they also prayed much. In this they abounded. They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water. In our day there is doubtless many a grievous mistake upon this point. Some who are really seeking to feed the flock, and to save souls, are led to exhaust their energies upon external duties and labors, overlooking the absolute necessity of enriching, ripening, filling, elevating their own souls by prayer and fasting. On this account there is much time wasted and labor thrown away. A single word, coming fresh from lips that have been kindled into heavenly warmth, by near fellowship with God, will avail more than a thousand others.

If Christ’s faithful ministers would act more on this principle they would soon learn what an increased fruitfulness and power are thereby imparted to all their labors. Were more of each returning Saturday to spend in fellowship with God, in solemn intercession for the people, in humiliation for sin, and supplication for the outpouring of the Spirit, our Sabbaths would be far more blest, our sermons would be far more successful, our faces would shine as did Moses’, a more solemn awe and reverence would be over all our assemblies. What might be lost in elaborate composition, or critical exactness of style or argument would be far more than compensated for the “double portion of the Spirit” we might then expect to receive.

THEY WERE MEN WHOSE DOCTRINES WERE OF THE MOST DECIDED KIND

There is a breadth and power about their preaching—a glow and energy about their words and thoughts, that makes us feel that they were men of might. Their trumpet gave no feeble or uncertain sound, either to saint or sinner, to the church or the world. They lifted up their voices, and spared not. There was no flinching, no flattering, or prophesying of smooth things.

Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword. The weapons wielded by them were well tempered, well furbished, sharp and keen. Nor were they wielded by a feeble or unpracticed arm. These warriors did not fight with the scabbard instead of the blade. Nor did they smite with the flat instead of the edge of the sword. Nor did they spare any effort, either of strength or skill, which might carry home the thrust of the stroke to the very vitals. Cambridge, regarding whom it is said, that “he scarce ever preached a sermon but some or other of his congregation were struck with great distress, and cried out in agony, ‘What shall I do to be saved’”.

THEY WERE MEN OF SOLEMN DEPORTMENT AND DEEP SPIRITUALITY

Their lives and their lips accorded with each other. Their daily walk furnished the best attestation and illustration of the truth they preached. They were always ministers of Christ, wherever they were to be found or seen. No frivolity, no flippancy, no gaiety, no worldly conviviality (friendly agreement) or companionships neutralized their public preaching, or marred the work they were seeking to accomplish. These men could not be accused of being like the world, or as men who, though faithful in the pulpit, forgot throughout the week their character, their office, their errand. Luther once remarked regarding a beloved and much admired friend, “He lives what we preach”. So it was with these much-honored men, whose names are in the Book of Life.

This article is an edited excerpt from True Revival and the Men God Uses by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). This book is available through Kindle for $.99. It is a worthwhile book.

Thou Shalt Not Whine

Once I received a gift from a friend that was meant as joke. It became one those gifts that keeps on giving, but not the way you normally would think. The gift was a small tapestry quoting what some humorously call the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not whine.” I decided to temporarily hang it in my motorhome thinking that it would give me an occasional chuckle.

Well, it’s still hanging in its place. It seems that every time I begin whining the tapestry is in my face warning, “Thou shalt not whine.” Never would I have imagined that a little wall-hanging could be so convicting. The Lord has used that tapestry to reveal to me that complaining is a corrupt area of my character that has not been conquered.

A LOVING REBUKE

As a young believer I was presented with the erroneous idea that if we are in God’s will then life and ministry will go easy. At age 24 my wife and I pioneered an inner-city church in Detroit, Michigan. It didn’t take long to find out that both life and ministry can be very hard and demanding.  I was putting in ridiculous hours pastoring fulltime while working a secular job. The church was open seven nights a week. We had Friday night street evangelism, Saturday night concerts, Sunday services and Wednesday night Bible study. The remaining evenings the church was open as a drop in center for youth.

As a young Christian I didn’t know anything about pastoring. Our house was full of new converts that needed a place to stay. We were living in poverty because all of our personal income went into the ministry. I sold my motorcycle so the church would have a down payment to buy a building. Then I sold a nice car and bought an old jalopy so the church could have chairs for the sanctuary. It was costing me everything.

Eventually I started complaining. Then the Lord gave me a rebuke that I will never forget. First He spoke to me from the Scriptures; “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5). Then He warned me saying; “Child, stop your whining! You haven’t even seen a fierce battle yet. Stand up and be a man.  Quit your complaining or I will pass you by and find someone who will follow Me no matter the cost.”

The Lord’s rebuke shook me to the bone. He was exposing a sinful part of my character and it hurt to see the truth. I thought Jesus was Lord of my life until I was confronted with the reality that entire areas of my life were not under His authority. The truth was laid bare; my will and God’s will were at odds with each other and obviously I was the one in the wrong. His reproof was an expression of divine love that I sorely needed; it was health to my life.  

Our complaining makes us miserable, inflicts our misery upon those closest to us and slanders Christ before the world. Most terrifying of all, God’s strong displeasure rests upon complainers. “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp” (Num. 11:1).  Since divine fire does not burn us up when we start whining we do not think it’s a dangerous thing to do. But God hasn’t changed His mind about complaining.

Probably the biggest reason we start complaining is that we have perverted views about God and ourselves. Until we learn to think correctly we will never amend those corrupt portions of our characters. We often start complaining when our expectations of life are not being fulfilled. This happens when we make the primary purpose of our existence the pursuit of a safe, happy, pain free life. But such lives only exist in the fantasies of our minds.

There are no rewards given to whining warriors who avoid the battlefield or to perpetual babies who cry at the least discomfort and problem. When we live self-absorbed lives we will be consumed with our problems, whether real or perceived, and ignore the fact that the mass of humanity is dying in their sins. Its time we grow up and stop our whining. We must take the war to the highway and hedges, to the country and the cities, to the highest places of learning and to the most illiterate, to places of power and to the powerless.

Victories in life are not obtained while sitting in a comfy recliner. They are seized in the heat of battle, in the front lines of conflict, in the throws of spiritual combat. That’s where we receive our eternal rewards; that’s where medals are won; that’s where the entire church is commanded be because that’s where the Lord Jesus is, fighting for the souls of mankind.

SCARS

Paul was a spiritual revolutionary because he strove to be like his Lord. It began with his radical conversion. For three days Paul was in deep repentance over his sins. Then the Lord told Ananias, “I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name. . . . At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. . . . Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him” (Acts 9:16, 20, 22-23). This is what a Biblical conversion looks like, whether in Paul’s day or our own.

The suffering that followed Paul’s conversion did not make him run away from the Savior but to Him. Notice that the Lord told Paul that he must suffer for Him. It was not an option for Paul, nor is it for us today. We forfeit a tremendous amount of joy because we grumble and complain when we go through trials.

Years later Paul testified, “For I bear in my body, the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). Most western believers will never be beaten for their faith, but we can bear the “marks of Jesus” upon our lives in different ways.  For example, we can bear His marks upon our wallets. This is the idea of living simple lives so we can give more money to advance the kingdom of God. We can bear the “marks of Jesus” upon our time by wearing holes in the carpet of our prayer closets. Some can bear those “marks” by giving up a prosperous career to preach the Gospel. His “marks” should grace the life of every believer with efforts to passionately reach the lost. And we must allow His “marks” to beautify our lives through an aggressive pursuit of holiness.

The Lord will not examine us at the judgment seat looking for degrees, success or fortunes, but for scars. What will he find when He examines us?  Will He find scars upon our bodies, bank accounts and time spent building His kingdom? What proof will we be able to offer Him of our love and devotion? Though we may not receive physical scares testifying to our devotion to Christ He will, nonetheless, look for those scares of loving sacrifice that were just as costly in a culture where Christians at the present time do not have to face a bloody persecution.

Some of the credentials that verified Paul’s apostleship are based upon what he suffered out of love for Christ (how many self-proclaimed modern-day “apostles” could boost of such credentials?). He suffered imprisonments and floggings, five times he received 39 lashes from the Jews; three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned. He was shipwrecked three times, once spending a night and a day in the open sea. He lived in constant danger, in want and in need. He toiled and labored because he did not count his life dear unto himself rather he loved Jesus more than his own life (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

Paul’s credentials are as nothing compared to the testimony of how God used him to turn the world upside down. The Lord poured His power through the man because his life and character were usable by a holy God. Paul’s character demonstrates what it means to make Jesus Lord of our lives no matter what we face or have to endure. Whining was not an option for him nor should it be for us. God is still looking for people like Paul who will give up their lives to advance Christ’s kingdom.

From experience Peter came to understand the value of suffering. While admonishing his readers on suffering he told them, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pe. 3:15). When Jesus is Lord of our lives we will find deliverance from whippy, whiny characters.  Complaining is telling God that we don’t want His lordship over our lives, that we think His plans for us are detrimental to our desires and agendas. If we had the fear of God we would tremble when we comprehend that our complaining is an accusation against the character of God, an attack upon His very person.

The seeming unfairness of the pain and suffering we experience can make us reel as if we are being driven by a raging sea. At such times complaining is something we are all tempted to do. Yet when our hearts are set upon “Christ as Lord,” and not upon ourselves or earthly things, then we will learn to rest in His perfect love and wisdom no matter what storms we may face. A character of complaining will disappear when our eyes are fixed upon the Savior’s lovely face.

When the waves are ferocious and it seems that the storm will swallow us up, if we look upon the water we will see Christ’s lovely face as He comes walking out to meet us in our desperate need. In our pain, in our moment of greatest need, if we listen closely, we will hear His sweet voice calling us to come to Him. But we must get out of the worthless boat we have constructed of self-trust and self-absorption and step into the midst of the raging storm. Everything in us will cry “save yourself.” The world will think we are mad. But His hand will be there to rescue us. In His presence the fiercest storms cannot disturb us; we are safe in His arms.

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Throne of Grace

Divine grace and the lordship of Christ are spiritual realities intricately interwoven to reveal a portion of the awe inspiring tapestry of the magnificence of God and His gift of salvation. The Hebrew writer penned, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Notice that this verse focuses upon a God of grace that sits enthroned as King of Kings. This means that the acceptance of Christ’s lordship is central to our reception of grace and that our characters play a vital role in the equation.

This issue of grace and lordship generates in us a great tension: grace is exclusively the gift of God which can never be earned, yet the reception of that gift is linked to our rightly approaching His throne. Since grace comes from the One who sits on the throne, only those who have authentically made Christ Lord will taste of His grace. John told us that anyone who continues in the practice of sin does not know Jesus and is outside of the benefits of saving grace (1 Jn. 3:6). The Savior freely offers all the supernatural power that we need to live godly lives when we authentically bow to Him as Lord (2 Pe. 1:2-3). With a pure heart and clean hands we can confidently approach His throne of grace (Ps. 24:3-4).

During the formative years of the early church the word “grace” (Greek: charis) was a common secular word that had a wide variety of definitions, some of which are employed in the New Testament. The word spans a large spectrum ranging from expressions of thankfulness to exclamations of external beauty to references on pleasing mannerisms. The Greek New Testament uses this elastic word over 170 times.

Early church fathers took this expressive word and formed it into an important theological term by uniquely applying it to God’s acts of mercy towards undeserving sinners. Paul eloquently employed charis to express the commonly taught definition of grace which is God’s undeserved love and favor demonstrated towards sinful humanity (Rom. 11:5-6). Grace teaches us that all a Christian is or has, is found exclusively in Christ and depends entirely upon Him.

Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is a graphic picture of divine grace in action and the price it took for that grace to be made freely available to mankind (Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 2:4-7). The Christian life can only be lived through divine grace. The transformation of our characters is directly linked to how we apply the gift of grace to our lives (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 6:1). It is impossible for us to live such a lofty, other worldly life through natural strength, wisdom and abilities (Rom. 11:6).

Grace has never been, nor will it ever be, cheap. Its cost is beyond reckoning and demands that we stop practicing sin and self-governance through the power of that same grace (Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Tim. 1:8-9). Unmerited favor is offered to us so we can overcome sin, not wallow in it or make excuses for it. This marvelous gift is liberally supplied to rescue all who desire to live free from the power and love of sin. To turn grace into a means to justify sin is thoroughly wicked and wholly forbidden (Rom. 6:1-2). 

How we view God and His grace directly affects the development of our characters and how we live in this world. We practice sin and become worldly whenever we turn grace into a cheap commodity. Remove grace from our faith and we are left with just another legalistic religion dependent upon human strength and will.

Paul taught that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). By grace alone we are saved, not through Bible knowledge, water baptism, church affiliation or natural abilities. How we respond to divine grace is our responsibility. To understand that the Lord is perfect in holiness and offers unholy people supernatural power to overcome their sin and corrupt characters is a major step towards victory.

A THRONE

A throne is a seat of authority and power. The King of Creation sits upon His throne possessing infinite power to fulfill all of His plans and execute all of His decrees. He is not like earthly monarchs, dictators and rulers who strive to control their kingdom through political maneuverings which easily succumbs to oppression, deception and manipulation. The Sovereign Lord does not use political intrigues to remain in power, for there is no threat to His throne. We can learn how to rightly approach Him because He is consistent in nature and temperament. “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Mal. 3:6).

Christ is a good, benevolent and merciful king. He calls humanity to, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13). His throne is established upon righteousness, truth and justice. The treasures of His throne are mercy and love, which are inexhaustible. He delights in bestowing such gifts upon those who cherish them.

The Lord has only one throne. To one person is it a throne of grace, to another it is a throne of wrath. Our spiritual condition decides the function Christ will fulfill upon His throne as advocate or prosecutor, friend or enemy. The Lord dispenses mercy or wrath through absolute truth. Never has it been His desire to damn people to an eternal hell because He longs to demonstrate mercy (2 Pe. 3:9). He will do everything in keeping with His perfect character to redeem men and woman to Himself. Yet this Just Judge is not afraid to execute righteous punishment upon all who refuse to turn from their wicked ways. His promises of judgment upon the faithless are no less sure than those of blessings upon the faithful.

DRAW NEAR

How we approach the throne of grace is of infinite importance since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jam. 4:6; 1 Pe. 5:5). Our character will either cause God to thrust us out of His presence or draw us to Him.

The Savior who sits upon the throne of grace is also our high priest (Heb. 4:14-15). Through grace alone we can “approach,” or draw near to the One who sits enthroned. To approach in the Greek presents an idea that we can constantly draw near to our sympathizing and great high priest who was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15).  Yet it is madness to think that we can boldly come before a compassionate and Holy God in any condition we chose.

Jesus told a parable about a king holding a wedding banquet (Mt. 22:1-14). Those he initially invited refused to attend. Some even mistreated and killed the messengers sent to bring them to the banquet. “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers” (Mt. 22:7). What a dangerous thing it is for people to reject the rightful reign of Christ over their lives, for it will bring upon them the justice of His wrath. 

After the king’s wrath was poured out against those rebellious subjects he sent messengers into the highways and hedges to bring in people so his banquet would be full.  After the hall was filled the king entered to see the guests and “noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless” (Mt. 22:11-12). Judgment was immediately executed against the man for the presumptuous pride of thinking he could come before the king in an irreverent condition. What an eternally perilous abuse of grace.

Character, grace and judgment are clearly seen in this parable. Grace was shown by the king’s undeserved invitation to the banquet. Those first invited would be deemed as religiously and socially fit for such a high societal function. When they rejected the offer of grace those considered unfit were invited. The first group was prideful, rebellious and thoroughly offensive to the king. His judgment upon them was quick, sure and just.

The second group invited understood the great honor offered them and promptly came. Though they were poor, it is implied by the story that they prepared themselves to attend such a privileged event. In this parable the type of clothing signifies a person’s condition of holiness and righteousness. The man that was not rightly clothed for the celebration arrogantly thought that the king would not mind if he was improperly clothed. This indicates that the man assumed he could approach the king with an ungodly character. Again, judgment was quick, sure and just.

There is a right and wrong way to approach the King of Kings. The Savior is not a cruel, moody or quickly angered lord. With confidence we can approach His throne so long as we are rightly clothed in humility, holiness and godly fear. He has made Himself approachable because He desires our nearness. Through brokenness, humility, holiness and the fear of God we can boldly draw near to Him. It is sheer foolishness to think that we could approach a holy God in sin, pride, and self-will and not face His wrath.

Paul closed his epistle to the Ephesians with a benediction crammed full of meaning. “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Eph. 6:24). Unmerited favor is freely available to us all. However, the One who sits on the throne demands a right response to His indescribable gift—to love Him with an undying love.

 

             Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Parasites

This sermon by Glenn will shake you. No watered down, wimpy message here. This is for those who want to be more than a conqueror, not for those who love and practice sin. Glenn will reveal how sin is the worst parasite that feeds upon the entirety of our lives. By contrasting Judas with Peter you will learn how both men sinned, but how one found victory through repentance and the other refusing the gift of repentance died in his sin and went to hell. Don’t let the parasite of sin be your ruin.

Voices

In each of our lives there are voices calling to us; demanding our attention, competing for our interests, luring our affections.  These voices come from within and without.  They are everywhere—in the city and country, among the rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, the young and old.  Relentlessly they tug and pull at us, compelling us to follow, to yield to their desires, to love what they love and hate what they hate.  The voices of the past haunt us with regrets, stir up past offenses, consume us with despair, fill us with pride or awaken deep desires.  The voices of the present battle for our attention, our affections, our very lives.  Whether good or evil, from heaven or hell, these voices yearn to shape our present, future and eternity.  They are a reality we must deal with.

The voices within are our thoughts, emotions, desires, hurts, joys, and conscience.  They are the byproduct of our personal history that has shaped our character and determined our destiny.  The voices from without are the social influences of family, friends, school, career, religion, TV, music and more.  We can willfully silence many of these voices.  With others we are forced to listen.  Nevertheless, whatever enters into us will mold us into the people we are and will be.

In the end, all these voices, both internal and external are rooted in spiritual realities.  They either come from Satan and his worldly kingdom or from God and the kingdom of heaven.  The spiritual prince of this world is Satan (2 Cor. 4:14).  He fluently speaks our language and knows how to manipulate our desires, emotions and intellect.  He can whisper in our ears, speak through men (Mt. 16:23), and use our kingdoms, inventions, intellect and passions to advance his wicked schemes.  Though he offers freedom, he makes men slaves to sin in all of its hideous forms.  His is the voice of pain, suffering and damnation.

The ultimate voice of authority is God.  His voice can pierce the thickest darkness and penetrate the hardest heart.  Heaven and earth tremble when He speaks but a whisper.  Creation will be remade when He roars.  Life is in His words and healing in His touch.  He is the only lasting answer to our problems. 

Far too often, when the Almighty speaks, we choose not to listen or selectively hear what we want.  What causes us to ignore God’s voice and yet be in tune with the voices of this world?  We have immersed ourselves in the language and love of this world—what they are we have become. 

LONGINGS OF THE HEART

Imagine how terrifying it was for Lot and his family to flee Sodom (Gen. 19).  Warned by two angels that the godless city would be divinely destroyed they reluctantly fled to the mountains.  Before leaving the angels warned them not to look back, but ahead to their deliverance.    

Mrs. Lot would not have agreed with most of Sodom’s sinful practices. Nonetheless, Sodom had supplied her with those possessions that became so precious to her. It also had a culture that freely allowed her to pursue the love of pleasure she had come to expect out of life. Without realizing it her constant association with the world had caused her to grow numb to its wicked environment.  In her mind the loss of her beloved worldly lifestyle was more than she could bear, more important then even Sodom’s destruction.  So Mrs. Lot looked back with longing desire and judgment came on her too. That is why Jesus commanded us to “Remember Lot’s wife” so we would not suffer her same fate (Lk. 17:32).  

As Mrs. Lot fled the voices of Sodom called out to her: “Why are you fleeing?  Sodom is not that evil.  Hasn’t God prospered her?  She will not be destroyed.  You can serve God and enjoy the pleasures of Sodom too.  If you leave you will surely suffer.  Consider all that you will loose.”  Her ears were in tune with the voices she loved. When she harkened to those lying voices she received the reward of what they truly have to offer—death. 

The question must be asked: are we the spiritual citizens of Sodom or of heaven?  If we yield to the voices of Sodom, which is an emblem of wickedness and worldliness, we will be formed into worldly people whether-or-not we call ourselves Christians.  Those who are molded by this world have their minds and hearts set on worldly things because they have become “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).

Worldly minded people live for the moment, for the satisfying of their desires, lusts and pride.  They do not want to be burdened with Biblical Christianity that demands their entire abandonment.  Many will accept a watered-down version of the Gospel that does not upset their selfish way of life even though it is powerless to save.  Their love self and sin has blinded their hearts and minds to the temporal and eternal consequences of worldliness and compromise.

THERE IS VICTORY

We cannot overcome our natural propensity to worldliness by just claiming to be Christian or attending a local church.  True citizens of heaven have heard God’s voice commanding them to flee Sodom and not look back.  Through loving obedience they have broken Sodom’s control over their lives by setting their “minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2).  Like Paul, they have counted this world as dung “compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8).  

We will never be victorious Christians as long as our minds are fixed on the passions and pursuits of earthly things.  Worldly thoughts are the result of worldly hearts, for whatever our hearts love our minds will dwell upon.  Jesus taught that, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).  Our lifestyles are worldly and self-centered because we love ourselves and this world more than God. 

To change our thoughts we must have a radical change of heart.  We are commanded to set our “hearts on things above” (Col. 3:1).  If our hearts are consumed with Jesus there will be no room for worldly loves.  God has promised to give His people a new heart and mind if we will thoroughly repent of our sins (Ezk. 36:26).  True repentance incorporates the turning from our sin and our absolute surrender to God.  We are then to zealously pursue God in everything we say and do until our dying day. 

We have believed the lies of a multitude of voices that have told us happiness and purpose comes through the pursuit of pleasure and possessions.  As a result, many professing Christians are willful captives of Satan and are now slaves of Sodom through their passions, lusts, greed and pride.  Its time we silence in our hearts and minds these evil, lying voices, for they have done us great harm. 

Jesus taught us to aggressively deal with our sins by cutting them off (Mk. 9:47).  We must have the courage and honesty to examine our lives by God’s Word so we can comprehend how our worldliness has offended a holy God and hurt our family and friends.  Only then will we truly repent of our sins. 

This is war in the inward parts of man. The heart and mind is the battlefield for the soul.  Whoever possesses the heart will control the mind and own the soul.  It is our choice who possesses the deed to our souls, whether it is God or Satan.  There is no middle ground, no demilitarized zone and no place for compromise.   

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Radical Christianity

Since Jesus is radical, Biblical Christianity is radical. Glenn, addressing this issue, demonstrates that the faith Jesus gave the church is revolutionary in nature, not with the violence of the world, but through the laying down of our lives that others might be saved. There is a cost to discipleship. If we will not pay the price, then we cannot be His disciple. By listening to this message you will learn what it means to be a true Christian.

Ruin of a Christian

This sermon by Glenn Meldrum is about the historical character of Lot. Lot was a man of great compromise. The primary reason he lived a life of compromise is because he was a prayerless man. Prayer is the lifeblood of the Christian. If a believer ceases to be a person of prayer then he or she will spiritually die. Prayerless people not only ruin their own lives but are agents of hell by devastating the lives of others. This message will challenge you, confront you and bring you to your knees if you have ears to hear.

What Can the Righteous Do?

Glenn Meldrum takes his text for this sermon from Psalms 11. In this practical message Glenn addresses the psalmist statement, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” How are we to live when we see the world growing more corrupt by the day? You will learn the difference between the response of carnal people and that of men and women of faith. There is a vast difference between the two. You, too, can learn to be wise and know how to live in this present evil age.