Grateful that our thoughts are not His thoughts!

It jumped out at me this morning, as I was reading the 11th chapter of Numbers — the statement the Lord makes to Moses in the last part of verse 23: “Now you shall see if My word will come true for you or not.”

Fact is, Moses was having his doubts as to the extent of God’s power to deal with his current situation (Numbers 11:1-9).

As the account goes, the people were complaining about God’s provision of manna. Spurred on by “the rabble who were among them” they started engaging in what you might call a selective remembering of the good ol’ days of Egypt: “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” In their dissatisfaction they clamored for something more–for some real meat.

Moses, badgered by their constant grumbling, and apparently aware of the Lord’s anger over it, is himself “displeased” (11:10); but then he joins in with a complaint of his own – not about God’s provision for the people, but about the position over the people in which God had placed him:

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”
God graciously moves to relieve the strain Moses is experiencing, instructing him to first gather 70 elders from among the people who will assist him in carrying the burden of the people. He is then to announce to the people that God is going to give them what they have asked for (and a whole lot more) because of their “rejection” of the Lord who was among them, and their complaint over leaving Egypt (11:20).

It’s here in the narrative that Moses’ doubt about God’s ability to handle the situation surfaces:
But Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, so that they may eat for a whole month.’ Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or should all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?”
It’s as though Moses is saying, “Uh, God, are You missing something of the facts of the situation here? Do You realize that we’re talking about what’s probably well over a million people? You do realize we’re in a desert region? What part of the equation am I missing here?” Truth is, he really was missing the most important part of the equation.

Numbers 11:23, reads, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s power limited?’ Of course it’s a rhetorical question – one that carries the understood answer in the question itself – namely, that God’s power is in no way limited! “You shall see!” says God.
Drawing on such accounts from the Old Testament, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:6-13, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. . . . Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” He then says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

BTW, did you notice how in the above scenario Moses turned inward instead of looking outward and upward to God (“Where am I to get meat to give to all this people?” ).   The way of escape is never discovered if we remain inwardly focused.

Admittedly, looking outward and upward in times of testing is sometimes easier said than done. Still, with the Lord’s help we can.  So Proverbs 3:5-7 exhorts us:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,And He will make your paths straight.Do not be wise in your own eyes.Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
And we can hear afresh Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, may you rest assured, “The Lord’s power is not limited!”

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). No, God, nothing is too hard for You…NOTHING! 

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

“The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).

“The LORD sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down. . . . The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:14, 17-18).

May you find His promises true!

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:11)
“Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.”
(Psalm 119:49)
“Now you shall see if My word will come true for you or not.”
(Numbers 11:23b)

Pastor Ryne

Living by Faith

Providing us with a glimpse into the window of his own soul, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:6-7, “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Paul’s longing to be with the Lord was ever-present.  “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” he wrote to the Philippians. “But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” (Philippians 1:21-23). 

Paul had grasped that the key to living here below was to live with and long for the reality of eternity – for the time when we who belong to Christ will finally be with Him, never to be apart.  In 1 Timothy 6:11-12, he exhorts Timothy to flee the love of money and other godless desires, and then adds, “You, man of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

In a similar way, he urges the Colossians, Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

John certainly shared Paul’s perspective and longing. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us,” he writes in 1 John 3:1,  “that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Peter reminds us that therein lies the key to enduring the trials we face here with rejoicing – namely the certainty that “at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13). Why may you rejoice? As Paul says above, because, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4); revealed , says John, as those who “will be like Him.”

And so today, moment by moment, we live in this very hope expressed by our apostles–even in the midst of the difficulties, the trials, the disappointments that often come our way.  For, “We have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
And, In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:26-30).
Such is what it means. at least in part, to “walk by the Spirit,”(Galatians 5:15) and to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Songwriters James Wells and Robert Winsett captured our walk in their hymn, “Living by Faith,” published in 1918:

  1. I care not today what the morrow may bring,
    If shadow or sunshine or rain,
    The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
    And all of my worries are vain.
    • Refrain:
      Living by faith in Jesus above,
      Trusting, confiding in His great love;
      From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
      I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
  2. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
    Obscuring the brightness of life,
    I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
    The Master looks on at the strife.
  3. I know that He safely will carry me through,
    No matter what evils betide;
    Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
    If Jesus walks close to my side.
  4. Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
    Our troubles will then all be o’er;
    The Master so gently will lead us away,
    Beyond that blest heavenly shore.

Interestingly, Wells composed the first three verses, and Robert Winsett verse 4.  Verses 1-3 speak of the troubles that often accompany the life of faith; verse 4 focuses on the reality that sustains and motivates us to persevere through our trials. The reality that,

“The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).  “AND SO SHALL WE ALWAYS BE WITH THE LORD!”Hallelujah!


May you rest today, assured in His promises!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13)

“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin,
to those who eagerly await Him.”
(Hebrews 9:28). 

Pastor Ryne

“I will extol You, my God, O King!”

Tomorrow, if the Lord wills, we will wake up to Thanksgiving Day 2020 – the day of the year designated in America for giving thanks to God for all His bountiful blessings. The Holy Spirit gifted David with a masterful ability to voice his praise & thanksgiving in the psalms.
“I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”
That’s how David begins Psalm 145, one of his many songs of thanksgiving and praise in the Hebrew Psalter. He goes on to list at least six (6) specific causes for praise, beginning each with the phrase, “The Lord”:
The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.

The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.

May these assurances, along with the countless other blessings that are yours in Christ Jesus, fill your hearts with gratitude this Thanksgiving Season!

“Joyously giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

(Colossians 1:12-14)

Pastor Ryne

Sovereignty

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”

(Psalm 103:19)

“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God’?

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

(Isaiah 40:25-31)
 

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him!”

(Psalm 37:7a)

Pastor Ryne

Some thoughts on our Nation’s Future

It’s November 4, 2020, and as we await the outcome of our National Election, I want to encourage you to hold fast to the assurances of God’s Word.

I think I’ve shared before how one Bible reading plan takes the day of the month and works through the psalms and the proverb corresponding to that day. For example, today being November 4, the psalms are Psalms 4, 34, 64, 94, & 124. In reading them, they could hardly be more apropos to where we, as believers, find ourselves in the throes of a nation divided by two diametrically opposed worldviews. Whatever the ultimate outcome of this election, it will likely have ramifications for generations to come.

I am grateful that our Great God and Savior “alone…makes [us] to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8]; that, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.[that] The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:15); that God will “preserve my life from dread of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, [and] from the tumult of those who do iniquity.” (Psalm 64:1b-2);

that,

Your faithfulness, Lord, will support me.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your comfort delights my soul.
Can a throne of destruction be allied with You,
One which devises mischief by decree?
They band themselves together against the life of the righteous
And condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has been my refuge,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
He has brought back their injustice upon them,
And He will destroy them in their evil;
The Lord our God will destroy them.
(Psalm 94:19-23)
and that, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 124:8). 


As you add the further assurances which Paul gives in Romans 8:28-39, may you, “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self” (Ephesians 3:16b), to “fight the good fight of faith; [and] take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12a); remembering that none “speaks and it comes to pass unless the Lord has commanded it” (Lamentations 3:37). 
“Looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) – “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens!” (Revelation 3:7).


“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful!”

(Hebrews 10:23)

Pastor Ryne

And His greatness is unsearchable!

Today, as I read Psalm 144, I was reminded of the many blessings that belong to those who have put their trust in the Lord.

“Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,” exclaims David in verse 3.  “And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another ,And shall declare Your mighty acts.” 
Notice the verses where he begins, “”The LORD…”:

      8 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
            Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

      9 The LORD is good to all,
            And His mercies are over all His works.

     . . .

      14 The LORD sustains all who fall
            And raises up all who are bowed down.
     . . .

      17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways
            And kind in all His deeds.

      18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
            To all who call upon Him in truth.

    . . .

      20 The LORD keeps all who love Him,
            But all the wicked He will destroy.

GRACIOUS, MERCIFUL, PATIENT,GOOD, SUSTAINING, UPLIFTING, RIGHTEOUS, KIND, NEAR…so is our Creator and Redeemer toward us. And His actions, His promises, His exhortations in the Scriptures assure us that He is, in everything, “for us” (Romans 8:31). “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39; ESV).

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27; NASB)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7; NASB).

May His Spirit strengthen your heart through His Word – stilling every storm that might seem to threaten your peace in Christ!

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you. . .”
(Colossians 3:16a).


“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”
(Romans 15:4).

Pastor Ryne

A Comforting Reminder!

The Apostle Paul begins 2 Corinthians with this comforting reminder in 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” What an encouraging way to begin what some might call a rather dismal letter – one in which Paul spends a considerable amount of time and energy having to defend himself against false accusations and misrepresentations of his character and ministry. In one sense, Paul says, “no matter,” for God has taken him through the fire of affliction and he has come to embrace the reality that God is truly in control of everything. Even when death was imminent (1:8-10), God simply used the situation to remind Paul that even death holds no sway over His might.

Again, in short, God is simply in control of everything….EVERYTHING! “The earth is the Lord’s, and ALL it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). Chapters 1 & 2 of the book of Job demonstrate that Satan, himself, whom Paul describes as the “god” of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), wields no power on the earth apart from what God allows. So Paul can emphatically conclude, that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” and “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28, 38-39).

It is in this assurance Paul rightly urges us, even compels us, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:4-7)/

In the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ we can do this, for as the writer of Hebrews will have us remember, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
“Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:19-25).
What “things” are confronting you today? No matter . . . God will trump ALL those things for your good and His glory!   So,“Draw near!” “Hold fast!” “Encourage one another!”

May our Heavenly Father’s “grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure!”

“He who did not spare His own Son,
but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
(Romans 8:32)

Pastor Ryne

AN ENCOURAGING WORD FROM THE SCRIPTURES:

A quick glance at the Wall Street Journal’s headlines over just the last few days shows that “troublesome times” are still with us. On the other hand, as I think on Isaiah 26:3-4, I’m reminded that “troubles,” while certainly a part of life, do not have the final say – God does!

Our Lord was not, and is not now, oblivious to the troubles we face in this world; after all He says in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation [the NIV translates it “trouble”].” Gratefully, however, He doesn’t end His statement there, instead, He adds, “but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  Then, as John records it, we immediately come to John 17 and the Lord’s prayer for those with Him then and for us (vv 20-21).

Jesus begins by acknowledging that “authority over all flesh (v 2) has been given Him by the Father. Later, in Matthew 28:18, He reveals the comprehensiveness of His authority – All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  None has greater authority than He!!!; thus none “speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it(Lamentations 3:37).

No wonder Isaiah – who “saw His glory, and . . . spoke of Him”  – exclaims in 26:3, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You”; and then exhorts us in the next verse,

      “Trust in the LORD forever,
            For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock”
(Isaiah 26:4).
Or, that the writer of Hebrews urges us in 13:5-6, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, ‘THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?'”“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;” says our Lord, “not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).

The words of the LORD are pure words;
            As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

      You, O LORD, will keep them;
            You will preserve him from this generation forever.

(Psalm 12:6-7)

Pastor Ryne

The Word of God will stand forever!

In these “unprecedented times”, the phrase “What a difference a day makes!” has never seemed more apropos.

Isaiah 40:1 exclaims, “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.”
I urge you to take time to read all of Isaiah 40 as an encouraging reminder that the one and only Sovereign God is in absolute control of all that is taking place in these days. . . days in which we are privileged to live, for they are the days which He has ordained for you and me (Psalm 139:16).
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower,” exclaims Proverbs 18:10, “the righteous runs into it and is safe.”  And God promises in Psalm 12:5,  “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”

David assures us in the next verse (Psalm 12:6), that, “The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” This Isaiah affirms in the chapter cited above, reminding us that God’s Word will be standing when all men and women, in their boastful rebellion against God and His ways, cease to be:

     A voice says, “Call out.”
            Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
            All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

     The grass withers, the flower fades,
            When the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
            Surely the people are grass.

      The grass withers, the flower fades,
            But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8).

“Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17)

  “The LORD bless you, and keep you;

  The LORD make His face shine on you,
    And be gracious to you;

  The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
 And give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Love and prayers,

Pastor Ryne

Reigning in My Heart for Prayer (from, Disciplines of a Godly Man)

This past Sunday evening, The Pursuit of Holiness found us in Lesson 10, Chapter 13, “Holiness and Our Wills,” & Chapter 14, “Habits of Holiness.” Great chapters that highlight how the different aspects of our heart – mind, will, and emotions – each play a significant role in the breaking of sinful habits and the establishing of godly ones.

As we were discussing the questions, a story in R. Kent Hughes book The Disciplines of a Godly Man, kept coming to mind. It’s an encouraging illustration of Proverbs 4:23 – ” Watch over your heart with all diligence…” — especially as it relates to the discipline of prayer (but other godly habits, as well).


Hughes writes, “A regular time of devotion and prayer will become a habit, and the habit of prayer will give wings to your spiritual life.” He then relates this story:
     In this respect, Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter once shared a page from his own pastoral diary with a group of pastors who had inquired about the discipline of prayer. He began by telling how in 1928 he entered the ministry determined he would be the “most Methodist-Baptist” of pastors, a real man of prayer. However, it was not long before his increasing pastoral responsibilities and administrative duties and the subtle subterfuges of pastoral life began to crowd prayer out. Moreover, he began to get used to it, making excuses for himself.     Then one morning it all came to a head as he stood over his work-strewn desk and looked at his watch. The voice of the Spirit was calling him to pray. At the same time another velvety little voice was telling him to be practical and get his letters answered, and that he ought to face up to the fact that he was not one of the “spiritual sort” — only a few people could be like that. “That last remark,” says Baxter, “hurt like a dagger blade. I could not bear to think it was true.” He was horrified by his ability to rationalize away the very ground of his ministerial vitality and power.     That morning Sidlow Baxter took a good look into his heart, and found there was a part of him which did not want to pray and a part which did. The part which did not want was his emotions; the part which did was his intellect and will. This analysis paved the way to victory. In Dr. Baxter’s own inimitable words:
As never before, my will and I stood face to face. I asked my will the straight question, “Will, are you ready for an hour of prayer?” Will answered, “Here I am, and I’m quite ready, if you are.” So Will and I linked arms and turned to go for our time of prayer. At once all the emotions began pulling the other way and protesting, “We are not coming.” I saw Will stagger just a bit, so I asked, “Can you stick it out, Will?” and Will replied, “Yes, if you can.” So Will went, and we got down to prayer, dragging those wriggling, obstreperous emotions with us. It was a struggle all the way through. At one point, when Will and I were in the middle of an earnest intercession, I suddenly found one of those traitorous emotions had snared my imagination and had run off to the golf course; and it was all I could do to drag the wicked rascal back. A bit later I found another of the emotions had sneaked away with some off-guard thoughts and was in the pulpit, two days ahead of schedule, preaching a sermon that I had not yet finished preparing!     At the end of that hour, if you had asked me, “Have you had a ‘good time’?” I would have had to reply, “No, it has been a wearying wrestle with contrary emotions and a truant imagination from beginning to end.” What is more, that battle with the emotions continued for between two and three weeks, and if you had asked me at the end of that period,”Have you had a ‘good time’ in your daily praying?” I would have had to confess, “No, at times it has seemed as though the heavens were brass, and God too distant to hear, and the Lord Jesus strangely aloof, and prayer accomplished nothing.”     Yet something was happening. For one thing, Will and I really taught the emotions that we were completely independent of them. Also, one morning, about two weeks after the contest began, just when Will and I were going for another time of prayer, I overheard one of the emotions whisper to the other, “Come on, you guys, it is no use wasting any more time resisting: they’ll go just the same.” That morning, for the first time, even though the emotions were still suddenly uncooperative, they were at least quiescent, which allowed Will and me to get on with prayer undistractedly.
     Then, another couple of weeks later, what do you think happened? During one of our prayers times, when Will and I were no more thinking of the emotions than of the man in the moon, one of the most vigorous of the emotions unexpectedly sprang up and shouted, “Hallelujah!” at which all the other emotions exclaimed, “Amen!” And for the first time the whole of my being — intellect, will, and emotions — was united in one coordinated prayer-operation.

[Excerpted from, Disciplines of a Godly Man, by R. Kent Hughes, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL 60187; 1991, 10th ed. 2001, pages 105-1-6; Hughes relates in the footnote 12 that Baxter related the story to him via personal correspondence.]


Heavenly Father, please keep us, Your children, from “rationalizing away the very ground of [our] vitality and power!”

Together in Christ,

Pastor Ryne


You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Psalm 27:8, ESV