Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GRASPING THE WIND OR HOLDING THE TRUTH

Suggested Reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

Hierapolis was an ancient city located on hot springs in classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia. Its ruins are adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turkey and currently comprise an archaeological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many architectural grave monuments in Hierapolis. The oldest graves are of the Hellenistic Period (1st and 2nd centuries BC). "BC" denotes before Christ. One wonders if Christ preached to the person memorialized here as well as the writer of Ecclesiastes. 1 Peter says that Christ preached to the imprisoned spirits who formerly were disobedient (e.g. the people of Noah's day, etc. Read 1 Peter 3:18-22).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Ecclesiastes 5:2

Do not be rash with your mouth,

And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.

For God is in heaven, and you on earth;

Therefore let your words be few.

 

In Nelson Mandela’s book, Conversations with Myself, he wrote, “Spiritual weapons can be dynamic and often have an impact difficult to appreciate, except in the light of actual experience in given situations. In a way they make prisoners of free men, turn commoners into monarchs, and dirt into pure gold. To put it quite bluntly, Duggie [his friend], it is only my flesh and blood that are shut up behind these tight walls.” According to some of those who visited Mandela in prison, he read his Bible daily. No doubt he read the words of our key verse about “words.” I’ve read Mandela’s words at his trial before his 27 years in prison. He was very intelligent then, but after he emerged from prison, he was not only smart, but very wise with his words. Thousands of hours in a private and secret place can develop wisdom. Ecclesiastes is part of what is known as “Wisdom Literature.”

Mandela and John Bunyan both had prison experiences. In 1678 Bunyan wrote “Pilgrims Progress” while in prison. The word “vanity” appears eight times in today’s reading. Bunyan tells us of two men, Christian and Faithful, who visit “Vanity Fair.” Here they are mocked for their desire to proceed on to the “Celestial City.” Faithful is executed here and proceeds to Heaven. Christian is remanded to prison but escapes and proceeds on his journey. For a good summary of this story click here and check out the fourth paragraph.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, as I meditate on the words I’ve read today about “the tears of the oppressed,” (4:1b) and seeing “the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness” (5:8a), I pray that the example of a Nelson Mandela would challenge me to change as he did during his 27 years of prison, then to do my best to change my world first, and then to help where I can to make change for the better in the world around me. I pray this in the Name of the One, who more than any other, changed everything…Jesus Christ! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I believe I’ve picked up in my reading of Mandela that for his call to political change, he made a deliberate decision to be private in his expressions of his personal faith. He does put in his book, Conversations With Myself, the fact that he taught Sunday School at one time, and he reflects on his education in Wesleyan Methodist schools. He also takes considerable space in his book to tell the story of “The Trial of Christ by Pontius Pilate” (pages 223 – 227). Jesus obviously had a major impact on Mandela’s life. The state funeral may not reflect this, but I’m told that the private family service will be much more indicative of Mandela’s faith.

I’ve been asked to comment about Mandela on the 100 Huntley Street telecast today. The segment should be available to view online by this afternoon here. I want my life to be about “holding the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, some translations), not as is repeated several times in today’s reading, “grasping for the wind.”

Yours for grasping God’s eternal truths and never letting go, holding and speaking the truth in love,

David

P.S. The name of one of the entities that make up the Crossroads Family of Ministries is “Tricord.” This name is from Ecclesiastes 4:12b, “A threefold chord is not easily broken.” Click here for information about Tricord (try clicking various items in the “Catalogue” at the top, such as “Documentaries”). Also, in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Evangelist” catches up with “Christian” and “Faithful” and shares the Gospel. I suggest that if you’ve not watched the latest TV special by Evangelist Billy Graham that you take time to (click here). Watch, and share this with others. This is Billy’s call to Christ this year on his birthday…the same age at which Mandella passed away, 95.

11 thoughts on “Tuesday, December 10, 2013

  1. David, your reference to “Pilgrim’s Progress”
    brought back a special memory to me.
    When “Muskoka Woods” was formerly
    known as “Glen Rocks Bible Conference”,
    there was a gentleman by the name of
    Dr. James Hunter (from Scotland) who
    had memorized the whole of the Pilgrim’s
    Progress. Each morning after breakfast,
    he would lead all the guests in devotions,
    and would recite (in his Scottish brogue)
    an ongoing portion of the Pilgrim’s
    Progress. I was a teen then and it so
    impacted my life. Thanks for sharing,
    and thank you and your family for
    your dedication in loving and caring
    for others.
    Enjoy a blessed day, blog buddies.

  2. What the readings spoke to me is that all you work all your life for is nothing only what you do for Jesus
    Bringing peace love joy to our fellow man
    As we approach Christmas bring back Christ in Christmas
    Every thing else is empty
    Speak the word inseason and out of season
    God speak through me use me for your praise honour and glory
    We have nothing but our lives to be an empty vessel to be used by our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ Amen

  3. Dear Rev. David M.
    What a great man of few words and of great faith Nelson Mandela was. He literally moved mountains by his courage, dtermination and faith in Christ. Spending 27 years in prison and by so doing putting himself aside focusing on apartheid and giving victory to Gods Love. So Heavenly Father like Neilson Mandela let me be that shining light in this world of darkness. Inthe name of above all names Your Son our Saviour , our Redeemer , our King Jesus Christ Amen.
    Have a blessed day everyone
    xxxx Carole.

  4. This book I believe would be very helpful to me. Lately I find myself being more focused on material things. I spend so much time on the internet browsing through cloths and shoes and interestingly I enjoy it. Something deep inside is telling me I am not doing the right thing and it feels like I have a divided attention . Trust me I would love to stop myself but there is also this side of me that keeps on telling me there is nothing wrong in what I am doing. To be honest though, it’s like the Holy Spirit that I used to feel is so close to me is drifting away day by day. I am lost, it’s either I am being ignorant of my own weakness or I am being too hard on myself. At times like this, I could only ask members of this family to please help me iron out this confusion. Thank you all and God bless you

    • It is a struggle most Christians encounter more than once in their Christian walk. Right now you are feeling caught between the person you were before Christ and the person you are becoming in Christ. The first thing you need to settle in your mind is the Holy Spirit never leaves you, you might not be as aware of His Presence while being distracted by the things the world is trying to offer you, but trust me He will never leave and He is more interested in getting you to stay the course than you will ever be able to do in your own strength.
      Even St. Paul struggle with this dual nature of doing the things he didn’t want to do instead of things he knew he should do, so you don’t have to beat yourself up over it, but whatever you to do, you should try to find a way to give it to God. For example, window shopping, online or in stores can be relaxing, but to avoid it leading to covetousness, you might turn it into prayer. Pray over an article of clothing and ask God to help the person who will purchase that article. Or pray that someone who really needs boots will be given boots. If you can afford it, always try to purchase an item for the someone in need every time you shop and donate it. Finding a way to include God will keep your spirit and heart open to Him. Don’t make it about you, but in activity in housework try to find out how God could use it. As you continue growing in the Lord, spending time with God, you will find the desires of your heart aligning with His, and His desires for you, are in the end what you really desire—- If you love to shop God might find a way to use that desire to serve others and His Kingdom, if you are willing. But for right now, you just need to be assured you are not lost, because God knows exactly where you are, just trust Him to continue to guide you.

  5. Patricia, I know very well the struggle of which you speak. Donna, your words to Patricia are very wise and very true. Romans says that nothing can separate us from the love of God … nothing. Patricia, I know what it’s like to ‘feel’ as if God has abandoned me, to ‘feel’ as though the Christian faith is not real, to ‘feel’ apart from the Holy Spirit. But the Bible reminds me that nothing, not even my sometimes fragile ‘feelings’ can separate me from the love of God. If belief and salvation were based on our ‘feelings’, we’d be lost long ago, for we cannot save ourselves no matter how hard we might try, it’s futile. ‘Feelings’ are fickle, they can change like the wind, they mean little in the eternal scheme of things. God loves us with an immense everlasting love, His Holy Spirit will guide us into the truth. My suggestion is to firstly pray about your situation which I’m sure you are doing, continue daily in David’s blog, immerse yourself in some God centred preaching / teaching. I spend hours listening to Dr. Charles Stanley (www.intouch.org), but there are numerous other gifted teachers, fellowship in a Bible based community church and find a Godly and trusted accountability partner with which to share your struggles, your faith and your prayers. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, really I don’t … I hope some of what I said is taken in the spirit of Christian love. I will sincerely pray for your struggles Patricia; it may seem empty for a time but the pure glow of Christ’s love will burst forth when you least expect it for He never abandons His children in their time of need. God Bless!

  6. Today ….what kind and Wise council from both of you Donna and Scott.
    Patricia there was a time when I to was very busy with wordly matters. I still
    am apart of this world but my focus is not on this world. I pray that we will
    never loose sight of what truely matters …..Jesus and our eternal home with him.
    Love and prayers 🙂
    M.
    PS
    I do not know much about The late Nelson Mandella. Thank you for sharing
    your knowledge of this unuiqe and colourful man of God , David.

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