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Monday, 29 August 2016

Broken things!

One of the many interesting characters in the Tanakh (what many people refer to as the Old Testament), is a man named Gideon.  You'll find the full record in the book of Judges 6-8, but the incident that has grabbed my attention is in Judges 7.  YHWH had whittled the army that Gideon had raised from some 32,000 fighting men to a mere 300!  These 300 were equipped, not with spears and swords, but with earthen jars that contained burning torches!

Right away, there is a picture of the true disciple of Jesus.  Writing to the believers in Corinth, Paul says: "... it is the God Who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' Who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us." (II Cor 4:6-7).   God the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, and provides us with the power that we need to live victorious Christian lives.  Sadly, too many of us go through life without allowing that power to flow through us, and touch others.

The answer is found in this record of the life of Gideon.  The torches were there, but victory only came when the jars were broken!  Then the light shone out, and the Midianites (the enemy) fled in consternation.  Those of us who are disciples of Jesus also need, often, to be broken in order that the light of the Gospel might shine through us.  We complain about adversity; about challenges; about difficult situations.  Yet the written Word makes it abundantly clear that it is tried and tested individuals whom God uses most frequently!

Believers are in the light, but all too often we do not let it shine out to others.  In the home group in which I have the privilege of teaching, we are working our way through John's first letter.  It is John who reminds us, in that letter that if "... we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (I John 1:7).  We might well add, "and others will see Him in us"!  We may have the light of Almighty God inside - but we need to be "broken" before we become completely useful to Him!

Are you being crushed by disappointment, bereavement, pain, sickness, financial difficulties, employment problems, or whatever?  Remember that, while such experiences seem to be tragedies, they may well be God's way of getting through to you - "breaking" you in order that, by His grace, you may display more of His light to others. How could that happen?  Well, Father God deals with each of us as individuals, so I am not in a position to provide a definitive answer to that question.  However, it may be that the way in which you cope with your particular difficulty will cause someone to ask you how you do so! That provides you with an open door to share with that other person, your own testimony to the grace and power of God.

The important thing is to trust Him in spite of the trial, assured that He will give you the power to go on and win new victories for Him.  When you stand before Him, you "... shall understand fully, even as [you] have been fully understood." (I Cor 13:12), and the "why" of broken things will be made plain.

The hymn-writer put it so beautifully:
"Not now, but in the coming years;
it may be in the better Land;
we'll read the meaning of our tears
and there, sometime, we'll understand." (Maxwell N. Cornelius).

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