Fasting Part 1 – Fasting Makes Me Hungry by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

“I fasted once but it made me hungry so I haven’t done it since.”  This humorous, yet illogical statement was actually made to us by a Christian woman while discussing the topic of fasting. She went on to explain that if Christians went on God ordained fasts they should never feel hungry. Obviously she had no personal experience in this matter. Only in self-indulgent Western culture would such an idea be considered reasonable; believers in the suffering nations would either laugh at us or weep for us.

There have been many books written on the subject of fasting, and if you look hard enough you can even find a few sermons on it. But like the issue of prayer, we may have an abundance of information yet still not put it into practice. To the average American Christian fasting is as popular a topic as suffering. The unpopularity of the subject does not change the fact that it is an indispensable discipline that needs to be restored to the church.

There are numerous reasons why we don’t fast. One major reason is because we hold erroneous beliefs about fasting which demonstrates our ignorance of the Scriptures. Many believers have mistakenly convinced themselves that fasting makes little or no difference in this world, so why bother with the inconvenience. Probably the biggest reason we steer clear of it is that we don’t want to make ourselves uncomfortable.

We struggle with fasting because it goes against the natural order of life. Unless there is something very wrong with us, we usually don’t intentionally do anything that causes ourselves pain or discomfort. Also, there’s something within us that cherishes life and cutting off what we need to sustain life goes against nature. Even our social life can be upset by fasting because much our interaction with friends and family revolves around eating.

Commanded to Fast

The Lord places great importance on fasting. That is why we need to understand the Scriptural truths that define this spiritual discipline. With a right understanding of fasting we will hopefully find the right motivation to make it a regular part of our service to God and His kingdom.

Jesus, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, was led into the wilderness to fast and be tempted for forty days. Although He never required His disciples to perform a similar fast, He did expect them to fast. That is why He said in the Sermon on the Mount “When you fast” (Mt. 6:16). He included the discipline of fasting with prayer and benevolence (Mt. 6:1-21). Once while Jesus was reproving the Pharisees for their self-righteous, powerless fasting He informed them that fasting would be a normal part of the disciple’s life after He ascended to the Father (Luke 5:35).

The Scriptures are full of examples of His people fasting. Whether it was in times of pending danger, mourning, during national repentance, the Day of Atonement or to find His will, all true fasting was done in obedience to God. This act of denying ourselves food is an expression of brokenness and humility which communicates to God our desperate need of His intervention. It is one of the means He has given us to fulfill the purposes for which He put us in this fallen world. 

Fasting to Break Chains

Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord informs us that fasting with pure motives breaks chains, sets the oppressed free and speeds healing.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard (Isa. 58:6-8).

We have personally witnessed God fulfill all His promises in this section of Scripture through fasting and prayer. While the Lord never violates a person’s free will, He does create circumstances that will make a way for the bound to obtain freedom and the oppressed to be treated justly.

As evangelists we minister at a different church or rehab almost every week of the year. Over 13 years ago when Jesus called us out of pastoral ministry into the evangelistic field we wondered how anything of value could be accomplished in just four or five services. We knew from pastoring that change is a slow process and unless the Spirit does a quick and powerful work we would just be wasting people’s time and money. 

This realization brought us to a deeper understanding that in ourselves “we have no power” (2 Chr. 20:12). Unless we give ourselves to prayer and fasting for each church we cannot expect change that will last for eternity. Every week we pray and fast for conviction upon the lost so they will be saved, that prodigals will come home and that the church will be awakened. We admit that it was God putting this in our hearts – not our own thoughts and understand it is the Holy Spirit who does the work. So in the end we can only say, “all we have accomplished you have done for us” (Isa. 26:12).

The Lord yearns to liberate the oppressed and break the yoke of bondage people suffer under Satan’s slavery. He could do this without our help, yet He allows us to share in His sufferings in a very small way through prayer and fasting. One story that stands out in our memory is of an unsaved man whose wife had been begging him to come to church with her for years. Matt emphatically claimed that he would never set foot in church especially “that church.” One Sunday morning Matt shocked his wife by informing her that he would attend church with her. It happened to be the Sunday that we began a series of meetings at “that church.” Not only did Matt come to the service, he surrendered his life to Jesus. The pastor was amazed because the few times he had talked to Matt he found the man very hard to the gospel. The pastor informed us later that Matt gave convincing evidence that he had truly been converted.

God often works through prayer and fasting to bring a person to the point of surrender who is suffering under the bondage of addiction. A young man told Glenn recently that a year ago he had repented of his pornography addiction after hearing one of Glenn’s messages on holiness. He said that he has not looked once at pornography since that service and God healed his marriage. A similar story of being set free from addition was told to us just a few months ago at a church in Arizona. This young man had heard Glenn preach a few times at a Christian rehab eight years prior while he was in the program. He said those messages transformed his life and he is still serving Jesus because of them.   

In Isaiah 58:8 we find that God will heal the body in response to fasting. Glenn was healed over ten years ago in this way. For many years he suffered with severe asthma to the point of needing three inhalers a day as well as a rescue inhaler. Through the urging of the Holy Spirit we felt that we should take several days to pray and fast for healing. Jesus healed Glenn and never again has he used any asthma inhalers or medication.

Fasting does break chains therefore it is one of the most formable weapons God has given us. Prayer is another powerful armament made available to all His people. He has given the church both of these disciplines because without them we would be left with only our skills or intellect in which to revolutionize this world.  When fasting and prayer are combined and habitually used in spiritual warfare the oppressed will be freed, eternity can be changed and hell will tremble.

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.

Fasting Part 2 – Show Me Your Glory by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

Prayer and fasting are indispensable disciplines that believers must restore to their rightful place in faith and practice. Both of these disciplines are some of the basic expectations that Jesus established for every believer, not just a select few. The motive behind prayer and fasting, though, decides whether or not they are acceptable to God.

During our early Christian years we knew a man in his twenties that was deeply confused over the subject of fasting. He decided to fast 39 days because he did not want to compete with Christ’s 40 day fast. As the fast progressed he started to get sick and had to be hospitalized— he was actually killing himself. One long term effect of this self-imposed fast was that the young man lost every bit of his hair which never grew back.

It is interesting to note that the only fast God commanded in the Old Testament was on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). All other fasting was voluntary. The huge list of required fasts that the Hebrews eventually observed predominately developed after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and then deported a large portion of the people to Babylon. God never required these extra fasts, the rabbis and religious system did. By Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were fasting at least twice a week (Lk. 18:12). Although the New Testament does not mandate any special or regular fasts, Jesus did expect His disciples to practice the discipline.

The problem the Lord often had with Israel’s fasts was not so much over the fasts themselves, but with the legalistic and selfish motives that defined them. They became dead rituals that were detrimental to the spiritual wellbeing of the people. Once the Lord questioned the people to expose their wicked motives, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?” (Zec. 7:5). They were deceived into thinking that religious acts made them righteous rather than living a surrendered life to the Lord through contrition, personal transformation and authentic love for God. The people had an outward form of godliness but did not have a true relationship with the Lord. Jesus exposed the corrupt motives behind the religious practices of Israel’s leaders by saying “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Mt. 23:5).

Their fasts had degenerated into worthless, selfish rituals that they believed would appease God’s wrath and grant them personal prosperity. What their cold hearts failed to understand was their religious rebellion against God was actually fueling the approaching Day of Wrath. His righteous, holy anger could only be assuaged through heartrending repentance. But repentance is a byproduct of surrender and love to God; both of which they refused to do. Their fasts were all about themselves and not about God (Isa. 58:2-4). They were deceived into believing that self-denial and self-abuse was equivalent to right standing with the Lord (Isa. 58:5). However, if the heart is not right with God, or seeking to be so, then fasting becomes an offense to Him.

The motives behind true fasting are not selfish, but selfless. This is why the one who fasts for incorrect reasons is no better than the one who refuses to fast – both are selfish. Those who begin to understand the privilege of sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering will selflessly subdue their flesh to accomplish that which can be done no other way. They are driven by the knowledge that fasting will “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isa. 58:6). Their deepest desire is that the hunger they feel when fasting will cause an intense spiritual hunger for Jesus in the one that desperately needs to be freed.

Let’s look at Moses’ example of fasting which Scripture tells us was the type of fasting that God receives. Moses spent forty days interceding through prayer and fasting that the Lord would not destroy Israel because they had built and worshiped the golden calf. Through his selfless act men, women and children were spared from having to face the wrath of God. Is it not the same today? Do we truly believe that fasting and prayer loosens the yoke of those enslaved to Satan, the world and sin? While it is true that our fasting will not save a soul from hell (Jesus is the only mediator), yet this story teaches us that we can prevail with God when we have a heart like Moses – which is really a heart like our Savior.

As the account of Moses’ intercession unfolds we find an incredible petition uttered from the lips of this great spiritual giant: “please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:32). What Christlike compassion—Moses was willing to go to hell that his people might be saved. Obviously, God was moved by Moses’ sincere and heartfelt prayer, even though He would never grant Moses’ request in the literal sense (Ex. 32:33). The Lord did spare the nation, but there were consequences for their sins. Mercy coupled with severe discipline was granted to the repentant people, judgment to the unrepentant.  This very account begs us to ask a heart-wrenching question: “Who among us could pray such a prayer today in all honesty?”

The intercession of Moses comes to a climax. It is at this point that prayer and fasting either becomes truly successful or a dismal failure. It speaks of the primary motive behind why we do, or do not, fast and pray. While Moses was in the Tent of Meeting continuing to intercede for the people he prayed, “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Though Moses prayed and fasted for the people, his spiritual craving to know the Lord is what drove him. Without a passion for God, Moses would have never had compassion for the people that drove him to his knees for hours, days and even weeks at a time. He understood the prize to be coveted from fasting and prayer was to see God’s glory.

The ultimate prize we are to seek through fasting and prayer is Christ Himself. That is why we must guard our hearts when we practice the disciplines Christ demands of us lest they become dead religious practices. Jesus must always be the ultimate prize we seek, even when we are interceding for the needs of others. When the motive of the heart is right then the promises attached to fasting will break forth upon us: “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isa. 58:9). So what is the greatest reward of prayer and fasting? Christ Himself! When we seek Him with all of our being then we will hear Him speak to us the most beautiful of words, “Here am I.”

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.

Fasting Part 3 – A Fasted Lifestyle by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard (Isa. 58:6-8).

 One primary reason we are commanded to fast according to Isaiah 58 is so we will have food to share with the hungry, clothes to give the naked and shelter to provide the for wander. Can such work be accomplished by skipping a meal or two a week and using those savings for others? It can help a little. But maybe there is something more to this than first meets the eye. Could not the Lord be calling His people to live a life of fasting that goes beyond the forsaking of food for the salvation and well-being of others? Might not this be part of our Lord’s call for His people to take up their cross by living a lifestyle of fasting?

What is a lifestyle of fasting? It is applying Jesus’ teachings regarding the wise use of this world’s material goods in living out our everyday lives for the purpose of bringing Him glory. Through submission to Christ we are compelled to live simply so we will have more money to give to missions, churches, the poor or to any need He shows us. Though this simple way of living is thoroughly Biblical it is also blatantly contrary to the American way of life that focuses upon the self-indulgent pursuit of wealth to squander it upon ourselves.

Wealth is not the issue—it is how it is used. Selfish people, whether they call themselves Christian or not, will live for themselves and this will be revealed in how they make and spend their money. True Christians strive to live like Christ (1 Jn. 2:6). His was a selfless life: “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus freely gave us the wealth of salvation so that we could spend our lives for His glory.

The Lord did not save us to live self-absorbed lives in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure. No, He saved us to promote the very purpose that compelled Him to come into this world: “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). The nitty-gritty of the matter rests upon who will be lord of our lives—the Lord Jesus or our sinful, selfish nature. K. P. Yohannan addresses this issue stating:

The most important goal is to employ material things for the kingdom of God rather than ourselves. This is one of the truest tests of where our affections really lie. Christ demands nothing less than lordship of our whole being, including the material blessings we have accumulated in this life. It’s not how much we give that counts – but how much is still left sticking to our fingers. That is the way to measure correctly the simplicity of one’s life (Road to Reality, 159).

When we yield to Christ’s lordship He will be Lord of our finances, time, relationships and recreation.

It seems that in the Western church we have forgotten that we are only stewards of our lives and will give an account of it to our Lord and Master. In Luke 12:16-21 we find the parable of the Rich Fool. One character trait patently glares out—that he was a self willed, selfish man. All of his financial decisions were based upon his desires to live in ease and comfort now, and to secure this lifestyle for the future. His repeated use of statements like; “I will do”, “I will build”, “I will store” speaks volumes about his spiritual condition. The Rich Fool does not acknowledge God in any of His decisions.

In verse 20 we find that his life ended much sooner than he anticipated. The Lord decreed that the man’s soul would be required of him that very night. The Greek word for “required” comes from two root words, one meaning cessation or completion and the other to call for or desire. It means his life has ended and God was calling for a reckoning of what was entrusted to him. The Rich Fool mistakenly thought certain things were his, “my crops”, “my goods”, “my soul”, but in truth they were merely on loan to him. He discovered too late that his soul was on loan as well as his possessions. There is no escaping this Day of Reckoning. 

We also must give an account for how we live in this world and what we do with the loans we are entrusted with. The bookkeeper does not make the decisions about how money is spent, he only receives directions from the owner and distributes as he is told. Many Christians think they are good people because they take a certain, comfortable percentage of their income and give it to missions or a local church but it hardly affects their lifestyle. When our finances are surrendered to Him we will live very differently from the world; we will not buy as they buy or vacation like they do or be motivated by money in employment choices. To live simply for the sake of the Gospel “costs”!   

There have been many good examples of those who lived the fasted life. One that stands out is John Wesley, a man that could have been wealthy yet chose to live simply. He gave to churches, orphanages, the work of spreading the gospel and printing Christian literature. Very little “stuck to his fingers”, which is why he died with only pennies in his pocket.  But look at Wesley’s legacy—he turned England upside down and set America ablaze through the Methodist revivals. This very moment Wesley is enjoying the true wealth that can never be taken from him.

The fasted life is not one that seeks poverty believing it to be a noble thing, but rather lives as simply as possible so that others might know Christ. Instead of spending money and time on extravagances and frivolous pursuits we lavish it on Christ for His glory. We should freely give to grow the kingdom of God out of the abundance that Christ has poured into our lives.

We need to rightly hear what Paul taught the Ephesian elders, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). Paul was not teaching the greedy false doctrine of giving a supposed faith seed so that we get a tenfold return. What selfishness! That kind of thinking was anathema to Paul. He was compelling the elders to give everything to Christ for the sake of His glory and the growth of His church. By teaching the spiritual leaders how to live a fasted life he was securing the expectation for the people to live the same.

In this world we live only a few short years and only in this life are we given the privilege to suffer for Jesus. We may not have to bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus as Paul did, but we better have some kind of scar upon our life for the Gospel’s sake when we stand before Him. Our wallets should testify of sacrificial giving. The lack of comforts in our homes, vehicles and possessions should prove our hearts were fixed on the city whose builder and maker is God. Both our prime years and retirement years should bear the marks of selfless service for the kingdom. Amy Carmichael warned her potential missionary recruits that they should expect to bear scars in their service, for did they not follow a wounded Savior? She later wrote the poem Hast Thou No Scar:

Hast thou no scar ? . . . Hast thou no wound? . . .

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are the whole: can he have followed far

Who has nor wound nor scar?

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.

Flirting with the Enemy by Jessica Meldrum

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming

of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:23).

 

 Recently I was reading a Christian novel based on a Biblical character. Right away I could tell it was well written and the author seemed to possess a good knowledge of the culture. Suffice it to say, I was quickly drawn into the book. However, I wasn’t too far into it when I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling in my spirit.

 Since everything Christian publishing companies produce is not always genuinely “Christian,” I am very cautious about what authors and subjects I spend my reading time on. In the above mentioned novel there were no obvious “sins” in the story. So I took a moment to pray about this uncomfortable feeling and asked the Lord to show me if it was from Him. It only took another page or so until I understood that this book grieved the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. He showed me that the author was endeavoring to make the reader believe that the main character’s acts of disobedience towards her parents were not only small issues, but even ones that should be viewed as noble conduct. Also, the author described her appearance (of course she was extremely beautiful) through the eyes of a man that was bordering on lustful thoughts. 

The point of this story is to confess that I almost missed the Holy Spirit’s still small voice. I am constantly asking Jesus to reveal to me not only my sin but also anything questionable that is in my life. God is holy and I want to put away that which is unholy in me, that which keeps Him from drawing near. Not all books are sinful in themselves, however if we  continue to read a book after we have been convicted or even skip to the back to see how it ends, that would be “flirting” with rebellion.

Charles Spurgeon in his book, My Conversion, made the statement, “I cannot [flirt] with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?” This way of thinking will greatly help to keep us from sin, compromise or even the questionable things. We need to understand that even the “little things,” the flirting, is the same evil that killed the One that poured out His life to rescue us. How can we give refuge to the enemy of Jesus? How can we harbor His murderer in our heart? We who know the truth about His costly sacrifice must not supply the enemy with a place to hide out and even thrive.

Believers who are mature and have sought to live a life pleasing to their Heavenly Father will eventually find themselves in the biggest battles in their Christian experience, the battles of the mind. “Spiritual sins” are the evils we can many times ignore or justify; sins such as pride, self-love, criticalness, evil thoughts, indulging in self-loathing, etc. Because spiritual sins are so hard to see in ourselves, we are often blind to them. This is why the danger is so great and we can easily yield to the temptation to flirt with the enemy. The Christian who would never outwardly flirt with a person of the opposite sex can at times flirt with the spiritual sins.

Using my illustration as an example let me be honest about the tendency of my heart to engage in flirtatious thoughts. When I first felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting and considered throwing the book away, I questioned whether I was just being too religious or rigid in my views. After all, finishing the book would not have sent me to hell. Following this line of thinking would have soon brought me to the point of flirting with “cheap grace”.

My thoughts then turned in another direction. If I threw the book away, I might have the opportunity to tell people about how I never finished this book and would appear spiritual. This of course is the spiritual sin of self-righteousness and to be honest this is usually my greatest temptation. Continuing on in that vein, I even very briefly considered the possibility that if I limited my reading to the Scriptures alone I could gain points not only with men but also with God. How ugly legalism is and how it disgraces Him.

These kinds of temptations should never surprise us because left to ourselves our heart is bent to thoughts such as these. We should not condemn ourselves when we experience these temptations. If however, it goes past a fleeting thought and we find that we have begun to flirt with spiritual sins there is only one thing to do – repent and kick the enemy out! Do not give sanctuary to the murderer of Jesus!

Be careful if you believe you never experience these kinds of thoughts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) We cannot discern our own hearts so we must plead for help from the Holy Spirit. Only He knows the truth about who we are. Without His revelation, we can think too highly of ourselves as the Pharisees did. The other danger is we may entertain thoughts of self-abhorrence, which is just as sinful because it is an offense against His grace and questions His power to transform His people into the image of His Son.

So why should we stop our flirting with evil? Why be concerned about the questionable things? Not because it will better our lives nor improve our relationships. These things are the benefits of a holy life, not the reason. The reasons to strive for holiness are because sin breaks His heart and because the only way to ascend the hill of the Lord is to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4). He deserves our unreserved devotion; He should receive the glory a pure heart brings to Him. In truth, throwing out a book, turning off the TV or choosing to face the truth about ourselves are not hard things to do if we are in love. Lovers never wish to grieve the heart of their beloved. True friends would never consider giving refuge to the evil that killed their best Friend.

 

Jessica Meldrum travels full time across the country with her husband Glenn ministering in churches, rehab programs, conferences and camp meetings. She teaches women’s groups and is a speaker for the Christian Women’s Club. Jessica’s life experiences have included foster parenting, church planting and a career as a business manager. She has also authored a book entitled Floods on Dry Ground, an extraordinary account of the Hebrides revival. For scheduling call 651-247-3979 or visit the Meldrum’s website: www.ihpministry.com for more information.

Desperate for Change

Glenn Meldrum preaches a powerful message on being desperate for change. There is no hope of change for those who do not want to change. Many who claim they want to change are not desperate to take the path marked out in Scripture that always leads to victory. When people who call themselves Christian live defeated lives it is because they do not want to live out the truths of God’s Word. Learn the practical means to be an overcomer through Jesus.

Dry Land

Preached at an urban church, Glenn confronted the spiritual barrenness of the people and called them to repent and renew their relationship with Jesus.

In Front of Your Nose

My third book, The Radical Jesus, was hot off the press. While holding a fresh copy in my hands I thought that the printer did an excellent job. I was excited over how wonderfully my wife designed the front and back covers and laid the entire book out. It was better than I expected.

Within the next couple of days my wife and I sent copies of the book to everyone that helped with the editing. A week or so later I got an email from Kathy Gallagher, the wife of Steve who wrote the foreword to the book.  In a very sweet and humble way Kathy informed me that we spelled their last name wrong on the front cover. I was shocked. How could Jessica and I have missed such an obvious mistake? We only printed 250 books for a trial run so the error will not be too far reaching. Nevertheless, it will be a testimony of how blind we can often be to the obvious.

It was interesting to me that neither of us could see what was right in front of our noses; we were blind. This issue when applied to our spiritual life and character is not a minor problem but a potentially deadly blindness with far reaching consequences. What sins and character flaws are we blind to that everybody else can plainly see? Let me give an example from my family. My dad had just turned 91. Two years prior he buried his third wife (the first two he divorced). While his third wife was slowly dying in a convalescent home he had a girlfriend on the side that lived in the same retirement complex. The family of this woman secretly removed her from the complex due to my father’s inappropriate conduct.

Throughout all of my dad’s marriages he never accepted any responsibility for their breakdown. He always blamed the “stupid women,” to use his phrase and manner of thinking. He also drove his three sons away from him and refused to acknowledge the reasons they all, at one time or another, disowned him. My dad is willfully blind to the obvious truth of his bad character. His sin is right in front of his nose, but he stubbornly refuses to open his eyes and own up to his sin.

When I recognize the blindness people have concerning their sin and the ugly dimensions of their character, I often wonder what corrupt areas of my life others can clearly see but to which I am blind. Spiritual blindness is most always a willful choice. We think it is easier to ignore the problem, blame others or hide behind whatever excuses we fabricate rather than face the cold, hard facts about what we actually are on the inside.

More times than I care to count I have seen families that call themselves Christian suffering under the ravages of their sin, yet refuse to repent and change. Even though they are damaging their children and the cause of Christ they deny that they have done anything wrong. And even if they do acknowledge that they have sinned, all too often, they do little to change the situation. Stories abound about violent martial fights with police being called; habitual arguing that tears the family apart; incest, adultery, homosexuality and pornography that devastates the home; drug and alcohol use that leaves scars that last a lifetime; foolish financial decisions that bring ruin to the family and the list goes on and on.

At times there is a form of self-righteousness that accompanies spiritual blindness whether it is in the life of a professing Christian or nonbeliever. Sometimes this self- righteousness is expressed in the deceptive belief that they are “good people.” As a result, they cannot see the reality that the motions of sin are working in and through them to their own ruin and that of others.

Take for example the breakdown of marriages. They disintegrate because spouses refuse to accept responsibility in the destruction of the marriage. They become experts at blaming each other and can recite from memory a long list of offenses the spouse has committed. All the while they refuse to acknowledge their part in the matter, repent of their sin and change.

Through our foolish ways of thinking we can even blame others for the sins we practice as if we are innocent of the matter. This often happens with alcoholics and drug addicts that blame their condition on their parents or other circumstances. Even though they may confess that they are sinners, they refuse to accept personal responsibility for their actions. They think it is easier to cope with their problems by blaming others for their sin rather than receiving God’s transforming grace.

Another way people hide behind this pseudo-form of self-righteousness is by comparing themselves with others. In this state of affairs, people downplay their sin by claiming they are not as bad as other people or that everybody is doing it so it cannot be that bad. They maintain their sins are only little ones such as “white lies” or “I’m only a recreational drinker.” Yet God’s Word informs us that “drunkards” and “all liars” will be cast into “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (1 Cor. 6:10; Rev. 21:8). This means that there is no such thing as a small sin.

Along with the above scenario people often try to hide behind the declaration that “God understands.” This shallow argument comes out of the false belief that they are somehow exempt from responsibility for their sins or above God’s laws. One man I confronted over his sexual sins claimed his sex drive was stronger than other men’s so God understood his problem. Such statements should terrify us because the Lord knows why we practice sin and that we have no excuses to hide behind. The ever increasing number of church folk that are living in common law marriages (which are no marriages at all), are also quick to claim “God understands.” The Scriptures call this sin fornication and boldly declares that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). In spite of what the Word clearly teaches, many believe they will not face divine judgment because God is love and He “knows my heart.” They erroneous believe that God would never judge them for loving someone.

Oh, the seemingly endless stories of people and families that are rushing headlong into a major train wreck of life. You see the coming disaster, you warn them of their approaching ruin, yet they refuse to see what is right in front of their nose. When their actions produce a moral, spiritual and relational train wreck, devastating those they claim to love, they often blame God for their suffering because of the evil they practiced.

The Lord declared through the prophet Zephaniah that, “I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD” (Zep. 1:17). This is a cyclical problem: the more we practice sin the greater the blindness that ensues and through our blindness we recklessly rush into more sin. Breaking this pattern can only happen when we are willing to see our sin and take the path of repentance. Out of genuine repentance comes the desire to right the wrongs we have committed. Failure to repent will only make the impending train wreck worse.

God’s love made personal to us is seen in His reproof, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal” (Job 5:17-18). The Lord knows our natural propensity to spiritual blindness so He actively labors to help our blind eyes to see. Sometimes this is an agonizing process due to our stubbornness. He uses everything from pain and suffering to loneliness and despair to bring us to the place where He can heal our sin-sick souls. Friends, family and even strangers can be instruments in His hands to reprove us. Solomon was right, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Pr. 27:6). We need help from those who can see in us what we cannot see ourselves.

David, addressing this issue declared, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Ps. 141:5). The king was humble enough to receive instruction and wise enough to know that it was an act of kindness. Pride and insecurity can cause us to reject correction. We can even be so defiant as to stubbornly continue in the very practices that we have been reproved over. It takes a tender heart towards Jesus to receive discipline.

The Lord gave the church shepherds to love and care for His flock. One of the tools that godly pastors have to help shepherd the sheep is loving reproof, both from the pulpit and through personal discipleship. However, we can be very rebellious sheep. As a result, many self- professing Christians surround themselves with cowardly pastors that speak what their itching ears want to hear. Such shepherds abuse the sheep and “multiply kisses” through their soft messages. They are actually unkind, even heartless when they give their congregations crossless, costless sermons that leave the people in their sin. Jeremiah accurately described these man- pleasing leaders, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). The Lord declared that this proliferation of pathetic ministers has come upon us because “my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer. 5:31).

At times we all need help seeing what is right in front of our nose. The wiser we become the more we will rightly respond to the Lord’s loving care that often comes in the form of reproof.  Can you receive a rebuke from a pastor, friend or family member? Is your heart tender to powerful and convicting preaching? As Solomon wrote, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Pr. 9:8). So are you a foolish mocker or a wise man or woman? Let me be transparent here, nobody likes to receive correction, including myself. Nonetheless, it is a very necessary work that the Lord uses to get us to our heavenly home.

We must look beyond our offended pride and insecurities to grab hold of the prize that awaits us when we respond to the Lord’s reproof. With great tenderness the Lord stated, “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you” (Pr. 1:23). Is not such a prize worth it all?

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.

Extravagant Love

Mark 14:1-11 is the text from which Glenn preaches. This message is about Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet and the costliness of true faith. Our anemic version of American Christianity that is a plague upon the church knows little to nothing of extravagant love—the love that brings joy to Jesus. Listen to this message if you want to learn how to love Jesus more; avoid if you don’t.

Freedom of God

Glenn Meldrum, preaching more as a pastor rather than an evangelist, presents the wonder that God is the only free Being that there is. We, as creatures, are totally dependent upon Him whether we like it or not and whether we acknowledge it or not. Learn what this divine attribute means to the human race and specifically to believers.

God is not Safe

Take a walk with Glenn in this sermon as he outlines how the True and Living God is not safe. We are so prone to reduce God in our minds to a being only slightly greater than we are. We do this to our own loss, for the Lord Almighty is more than able to save mankind. The real question is, do we really want saving? Do we really want to overcome the sin we have loved for so long? In this sermon you will find how to live the victorious Christian life.

Lies of Tolerance

One evening while ministering in Vermont I saw a commercial aired during the evening news. It was filled with children and teens pleading with the viewers to be tolerant with those of different races, religions and lifestyle choices. They sounded so sincere, so guileless. The message was simple and appealing. Their statements held a certain validity. And yet, underlying this seemingly innocent commercial was a propaganda based upon lies to engineer society.

THE HYPOCRISY OF TOLERANCE
The sad irony about the tolerance movement is that it is not tolerant. The moment you disagree with those who believe in the secular version of tolerance, you are labeled a bigot, homophobe, extremist or worse. This is actually a justified form of hate advanced by the politically correct. While visiting some relatives a discussion about homosexuality arose. I presented the Biblical view that homosexuality is sin. When my relative’s arguments broke down she turned to personal attacks by labeling me a homophobe. Though she claimed to be open-minded and an active proponent of tolerance she demonstrated that she was extremely intolerant.

Let me illustrate this further. A friend of mine who pastors a church on a major university campus held a series of lectures at the church. He brought in noted Christian speakers on major world religions who opened the floor for questions after each lecture. The meetings were well received until the night of the lecture on Hinduism. Hinduism has 330 million deities. Here is a religion that prides itself on diversity and tolerance. That is, until Christ’s exclusive claims to truth and salvation are presented. The Hindus in the meeting were enraged. They proved that they are not tolerant.

Noted apologist Ravi Zacharias clearly defined the core convictions of the mass-produced propaganda of tolerance. “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. . . . A journalist can walk into a church and mock its carryings on, but he or she dare not do the same if the ceremony is from the eastern fold.”

The problem with the tolerance movement is not in the promotion of tolerance in and of itself, but in its philosophical foundations. This non-Christian belief system is predominately the by-product of naturalism, humanism and moral relativism, each of which is antagonistic to Biblical Christianity and the health and well being of society. I will briefly outline these three philosophical points and then address how they relate to the secular concept of tolerance.

NATURALISM
Naturalism is the atheistic belief that reality can be explained through mere natural terms. Evolution, realism and determinism are foundations of naturalism. Naturalists claim that the character and behavior of human beings are wholly determined by heredity and environment. Humanity is nothing more than an evolved species that struggle with instinctive drives, such as hunger and sexuality, along with external social and economic influences. Though the formal philosophy of naturalism began in the late 19th century and was short lived, it has become the common belief of the majority of Americans. It is aggressively taught in our schools.

Evolution is a theory which purports that the material world came into being through time and chance. In other words, time and chance is the creator of all that is and through that same impersonal random act life came forth from lifeless matter. Actually, naturalism and evolution are faith based explanations of the existence of man that has removed God from the equation.

HUMANISM
The Greek philosopher Protagoras of the 5th century BC gave us the definition of humanism, “Man is the measure of all things.” This sentiment became the driving force of the 14th century Renaissance that
began in Italy. The Renaissance removed the Christian influence from the study of ancient Latin and Greek authors. This brought about a compartmentalizing of the person. The intellectual, worldly and temporal
was removed from the spiritual and eternal.

As with naturalism, humanism has evolved and trickled down from the intelligentsia to the mass of western civilization. It is so thoroughly incorporated into our society that it is hard for us to comprehend its depth of influence. Modern humanism attempts to offer dignity to the human race without God. If man, and the pleasure of man is, as Protagoras claimed, the measure of all things, then God is either removed from society or compartmentalized to an insignificant part of life. Morals are then left to the dictates of the individual and the powerbrokers of society.

RELATIVISM
Moral relativism works hand-in-hand with naturalism and humanism. Relativists reject the Biblical standards of morality by claiming that there is no such thing as self-evident moral principles that are true for everyone. Morality is determined by traditions and customs. This means that whatever society determines is right is right. Morality is then decided and engineered according to whatever is considered beneficial for that society no matter how evil it may be.

Relativism is both pragmatic and existential. Pragmatism asserts that whatever works is right, while existentialism claims that morals change given each situation. Relativism taken to its logical conclusion would produce social chaos. It would be a world where nothing is good or evil, where justice and fairness are meaningless and where moral improvement is irrelevant. It is a bankrupt philosophy that is thoroughly illogical.

THE LIES OF TOLERANCE
If humanity is only the product of time and chance, and if man is the measure of all things, and if morals are only the pragmatic and existential results of society, then how do you get people to tolerate each other? The moral relativist would say through education and law. For the Christian, hate and prejudice are part of our sinful nature and will never be eradicated by education, laws or propaganda.

When deviant moral practices such as homosexuality, premarital sex, and pedophilia are deemed legitimate lifestyle choices by special interest groups they aggressively strive to legalize the sin, and manipulate the populace with propaganda so they believe the lie. However, history proves that immorality is always destructive to society because sin is destitute of the power to accomplish good. Notice that, as God is further removed from American life society grows more corrupt. When we reap the whirlwind of our wickedness we can see the worthlessness of moral relativism, that is, if we have eyes to see.

Relentless reports on the violence in our schools burden our hearts. Relativistic morality offers nothing more than commercials on tolerance and laws to prohibit violence and hate. Yet the hearts of the people have not changed. When godless philosophies overran the classrooms the standard for morality was driven out as well. The violence and disrespect in our schools are at unprecedented levels. Moral relativism is not working. Propaganda and legislation will never be able to curb our natural propensity to sin and evil.

Only through Jesus is there power to change the character of man. Left to ourselves we are self-absorbed people who want to justify our sinful lifestyles and even propagate them. The Scriptures plainly state that morals are not relative because they are based upon the character of God who does not change. That is why He told us to, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pe 1:16).

God is truly the only tolerant being. He tolerates our sin while calling us to repent. His tolerance is never a justification of sin, for He is also the Just Judge. The wages of sin will be distributed with eternal justice unless the sinner turns from his sin through repentance. God’s tolerance gives us space to repent. If we refuse to repent then we are left to face His holy justice.

There is no dignity in man if he is only an evolved ameba that was once slime on the sea. God created man in His own image and for His own good pleasure. We were created with a purpose that does not change: to love God first and foremost and then to love others as ourselves. Only as we are rightly related to God can we correctly love others. Jesus did not ask His disciples to be tolerant, but to love others as He loved them. This is the high calling of a Christian.

Genuine Christians learn true tolerance as they become more like Jesus. There is no place for hate and prejudice in Christ’s kingdom. Jesus told us that by our love the world will know that we are His disciples (Jn. 13:35). Throughout church history the cause of Christ has been slandered when those who call themselves Christians walk in hatred and prejudice. As Jesus said, “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Mt 12:33).

A person is not born a Christian but becomes one by surrendering his life to Jesus as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). Since Christians were once rebels against Christ they ought to be Biblically tolerant of those who do not know the Savior because they once lived as the unbelievers now do. Paul told us, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Christians are never called to justify the sins of others, but to call them out of their rebellion against God by turning to Jesus with all their heart. Notice that the commercial stated at the beginning of the article did not ask the viewers to love each other, only to be tolerant. Godless philosophies are powerless to change human nature. Underlying the commercial was relativism’s approval of alternative lifestyles no matter how evil and destructive they are. This is done, not out of charity, but out of the propagation and love of evil. These godless philosophies cannot transform the evil in men’s hearts, so they legitimize them. Evil can only be what it is, and if it is left unrestrained, will endeavor to accomplish its end—the infliction of pain and suffering, both temporally and eternally.

The secular version of tolerance is a lie and will never be able to accomplish what it propagates. Jesus is the only remedy to the sin sick soul.

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.

Love That Costs by Jessica Meldrum

“I hate you! You’re not my mom and dad. I’m going to ask my social worker to move me to a new home!”

As Lynn* stormed off and slammed her bedroom door, I looked at my husband. The hurt I saw in Glenn’s eyes mirrored my own. Just a month ago everything seemed to be going so well. Lynn had been in our home two years now and we had witnessed many wonderful changes in her. We knew she had begun to believe that we would not abandon her, a very legitimate fear because she had been abandoned by family and other foster parents.

Lynn was 10 years old when I first met her as a volunteer helping with an outing at a local foster care agency. I fell in love with her immediately. After five years foster parenting and many years of working with unwanted kids on the streets of Detroit, I could tell Lynn had potential. I saw her often over the next two years and kept hoping that her current foster home would work out for her. It was number six since coming into the foster care system at four years old.

One day while at the agency office, I overheard one of the social workers talking about how hard it would be to place a 12 year old. The other worker agreed adding that such a nice kid like Lynn could really use break. At once I felt the Lord speak to my heart about taking her. I spoke to Glenn that night and he also believed it was God’s will for us to share our home and our hearts with her

The first year with Lynn was certainly not uneventful. It is common for a foster child to test their foster parents for at least the first year. Due to attachment issues, they want to know as soon as possible if a foster family with keep them or “give them back” once the family discovers negative behaviors in them.

Over the next two years, we came to love Lynn as we would our own daughter. She slowly opened up to us, but still we sensed that she was fighting her growing attachment to us. Two weeks before we were to celebrate our second anniversary, Lynn began doing things to sabotage our relationship. She betrayed our trust, lied to us and began forming detrimental friendships behind our backs.

When she disobeyed us, it seemed she wanted to be found out. When we confronted her about her behavior, she suggested we just get rid of her since we didn’t like what she was doing. Although we made many mistakes through this time, we did try to confirm our love for Lynn and let her know we would be very sorry if she chose to leave us.

The decision to become foster parents was not really our decision, Jesus chose it for us. He showed us a need and we simply obeyed His command to care for the “least of these.”  It began with taking in teens off the street and getting some type of legal guardianship. Because of their age and circumstances we never had to be concerned about giving them up. When Glenn and I decided to take Lynn, we again believed that we would not be in danger of losing her. Although she was younger, given the history, it was very doubtful that she would ever be given back to her mother. We hadn’t considered the possibility of Lynn rejecting us.

I was facing the predictions and warnings that many had made to us over the years; “You’re going to get your heart broken if you foster parent, that’s why I would never do it.”  It was looking like we were going to lose Lynn and I realized that I had never really prepared myself for a loss like this. But how could I have prepared for it? By not giving my heart away? How could I ever make a difference in the life of a child unless I let them into my heart?

The world teaches us to preserve our life; to save our life. That it is a very foolish thing to knowingly put yourself in a position to be hurt or suffer loss. The Scriptures teach the opposite. To love as Jesus loves is never safe. To give your life away is risky and sooner or later it will cost. As Christians we are to lose our lives through absolute surrender and follow our Master even if He takes us to a cross.

Lynn’s social worker did not grant her request to be moved to another home and soon afterwards she came to the point to love us and trust us. We had many more trying situations to go through with her, but today Lynn is a tender-hearted, young adult following Jesus. She is not repeating the sins of her natural family. Her life is a wonderful testimony of the love and mercy of God.

It all worked out well with Lynn; however all our stories don’t end like this one. At times Jesus chose for us more difficult paths, ones that included the pain of loss or the sting of betrayal. Our decisions to love must never be based on the predicted outcome. To love as Jesus loved will always cost, yet to share in the fellowship of His sufferings by giving our lives away is in truth, a great privilege. Whether we join with Christ in His sufferings by spending hours on our knees for someone who is hurting or we give ourselves in some manner of service for Him, it is a gift from Him, no matter the outcome.

Emma Booth-Tucker, a granddaughter of William Booth, understood the real blessing in living on this earth. “The portions of my life which have given me the most satisfaction,” she confessed, “are the seasons when I carried the cross for Jesus, and the one regret which fastens down upon my spirit at the thought of turning from earth and entering heaven is the realization that I shall never again be able to companion Jesus by bearing the cross, by suffering with Him for the salvation of sinners, and by ministering to Him by ministering to the sorrowing, suffering multitudes for whom His blood was given.”

* The name has been changed.

Jessica Meldrum has been a national evangelist with her husband Glenn since 1997. She speaks to women’s groups, is a freelance author and wrote the book Floods on Dry Ground: The Story of the Hebrides Awakening. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn and Jessica Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Lost Control

This sermons by Glenn Meldrum examines the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5:25-14. The primary problem we face as humans is that we are control freaks, terrified not to be the boss of our own destinies. Through the suffering of this woman and her aggressive pursuit of Jesus we learn the necessity of giving up the control to Jesus. This is all about surrender, which is one of the hardest things we will ever learn to do.  If we really want to know Christ then surrender is not a one time act or that which is done in moments of crisis, but the pursuit of our lives.

Mercenary Christians

This message will disturb you. It was preached at an inner-city church where Glenn confronted the welfare, entitlement mentality that is a plague to the entire church. We want a handout from God, a faith that does not cost us. But the true faith is costly. In fact, it will cost you everything. In Acts 8:9-24 Glenn examines Simon, the epitome of a mercenary Christian who, in essence, sells himself to the highest bidder. Rebuked for his gross sin he is commanded to repent. A costly faith is the only true faith. It cost Jesus everything to give and the grace of God demands that it costs us everything to receive. Listen to this sermons and let Jesus transform your life.

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.