Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 24, 2020

The Normal Christian Life – God’s Plan for Your Success!

Discovering the Secret of Living the Christian Life!

You may have heard or said, “Well, I try to be a good Christian,” or “I try to live a good Christian life.” To try is to fail, you can take that to the bank. Ephesians 2:8-9 points out, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” While there is a place for good works as in verse 10 of that chapter, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” A key thought in that verse is we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works; these are the works of Christ through us.

How can that be you may ask? In Galatians 2:20 the reality of our spiritual situation is stated when Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Let us modify Ephesians 2:8-9 to apply to the Christian life: “For it is by grace you live the Christian life, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Do you see the parallel, do you see how that which was commenced by faith must be continued by faith? Trying to live the Christian life would be like trying to save yourself!

In The Nick of Time!

A life-changing development had come just in time; depression and frustration had taken hold of Hudson Taylor before he finally discovered the reality of the exchanged life. Chapter 14 of “The Normal Christian Life” is titled, “The Exchanged Life” and relates the joy Hudson Taylor experienced when he realized he wasn’t supposed to do it himself, it was Christ’s work and Christ wanted to do it in Hudson Taylor.

The staggering reality of Galatians 2:20 finally hit home in his life and by God’s grace and the teaching ministry of God, the Holy Spirit, this monumental truth finally became a part of Hudson Taylor’s life. On his return to Yangchow he exclaimed to a friend, “Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man!” (page 110).

It is a curious thing about human nature, how we want to do things our way rather than follow the instructions; I believe it entirely likely that Hudson Taylor had read the entire New Testament many times but somehow this fundamental truth had escaped him. Although we know we cannot save ourselves, we somehow think we can live the Christian life in our own strength! In Galatians 3:3 Paul warns, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”

The Mystery Revealed

The world changed forever when on Pentecost of AD 33 the Holy Spirit indwelt believers and each Christian human being became a temple of God. A wondrous mystery that had been hidden from the past ages was now revealed; Paul describes this in Colossians 1:25-27, “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

You will recall the beginning of my last blog where I quoted the opening paragraph from Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life, “What is the normal Christian life? We do well at the outset to ponder this question. The object of these studies is to show that it is something very different from the life of the aver­age Christian. Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God —of the Sermon on the Mount for example—should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save only by the Son of God Himself But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our question”

As the book progresses one sees the impact of Hudson Taylor all over the ministry of Watchman Nee; the secret had been successfully passed down to succeeding generations of Chinese Christians. May God, the Holy Spirit, illumine our understanding to the point we can exchange our lives for the life of Christ and make Galatians 2:20 a part of our reality as well!

The Normal Christian Life is the Exchanged Life!

(If at once you don’t succeed, try, try again! I published this last week and was disappointed by the readership; I decided my title didn’t do the subject the justice it most assuredly deserves. I’m republishing the essay with a new title in the hopes it will attract more readership; embracing these principles is life-changing and you can take that to the bank! If you haven’t already embraced the exchanged life, join with Hudson Taylor and countless others and let God make you a new person!)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 21, 2020

Thinking Again on “The Impossibility of Trying to be a Good Christian”

Discovering the Secret of Living the Christian Life!

You may have heard or said, “Well, I try to be a good Christian,” or “I try to live a good Christian life.” To try is to fail, you can take that to the bank. Ephesians 2:8-9 points out, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” While there is a place for good works as in verse 10 of that chapter, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” A key thought in that verse is we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works; these are the works of Christ through us.

How can that be you may ask? In Galatians 2:20 the reality of our spiritual situation is stated when Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Let us modify Ephesians 2:8-9 to apply to the Christian life: “For it is by grace you live the Christian life, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Do you see the parallel, do you see how that which was commenced by faith must be continued by faith? Trying to live the Christian life would be like trying to save yourself!

In The Nick of Time!

A life-changing development had come just in time; depression and frustration had taken hold of Hudson Taylor before he finally discovered the reality of the exchanged life. Chapter 14 of “The Normal Christian Life” is titled, “The Exchanged Life” and relates the joy Hudson Taylor experienced when he realized he wasn’t supposed to do it himself, it was Christ’s work and Christ wanted to do it in Hudson Taylor.

The staggering reality of Galatians 2:20 finally hit home in his life and by God’s grace and the teaching ministry of God, the Holy Spirit, this monumental truth finally became a part of Hudson Taylor’s life. On his return to Yangchow he exclaimed to a friend, “Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man!” (page 110).

It is a curious thing about human nature, how we want to do things our way rather than follow the instructions; I believe it entirely likely that Hudson Taylor had read the entire New Testament many times but somehow this fundamental truth had escaped him. Although we know we cannot save ourselves, we somehow think we can live the Christian life in our own strength! In Galatians 3:3 Paul warns, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”

The Mystery Revealed

The world changed forever when on Pentecost of AD 33 the Holy Spirit indwelt believers and each Christian human being became a temple of God. A wondrous mystery that had been hidden from the past ages was now revealed; Paul describes this in Colossians 1:25-27, “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

You will recall the beginning of my last blog where I quoted the opening paragraph from Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life, “What is the normal Christian life? We do well at the outset to ponder this question. The object of these studies is to show that it is something very different from the life of the aver­age Christian. Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God —of the Sermon on the Mount for example—should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save only by the Son of God Himself But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our question”

As the book progresses one sees the impact of Hudson Taylor all over the ministry of Watchman Nee; the secret had been successfully passed down to succeeding generations of Chinese Christians. May God, the Holy Spirit, illumine our understanding to the point we can exchange our lives for the life of Christ and make Galatians 2:20 a part of our reality as well!

The Normal Christian Life is the Exchanged Life!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 14, 2020

Thinking Again on “The Normal Christian Life”

The essays this week and next week will present the single most important principle for successfully living the Christian life, The Exchanged Life; I urge and encourage you to prayerfully study their message and, by faith, embrace the exchanged life for yourself!

What is the Normal Christian Life?

During my first year at Dallas Theological Seminary I had the privilege of taking a class on spiritual life from Dr. John Walvoord. Our text for that class was a book by Watchman Nee called, “The Normal Christian Life.” The first sentence in Chapter 1 poses the question, “What is the normal Christian life?”

Watchman NeeWatchman Nee

Before I continue, please let me tell you how much that book has meant to me; it was a life-changing book that I have read and reread many times and have recommended to countless others. My original volume was loaned out so many times I can’t even remember and somehow managed to get itself lost; I hope it is still out there somewhere doing good for someone!

Right now I have my replacement copy in front of me; a copy of “The Normal Christian Life” which is available by clicking on the link.

The first paragraph concludes with these words, “We do well at the outset to ponder this question. The object of these studies is to show that it is something very different from the life of the aver­age Christian. Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God —of the Sermon on the Mount for example—should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save only by the Son of God Himself But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our question.”

A Fascinating Heritage

Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to read many wonderful books on Christianity written by contemporary authors. One of those books was given to me by a fellow student at DTS and is named, “Hudson Taylors’ Spiritual Secret.” This fellow student wrote an inscription on an inside page which reads:

Dear David

May this book be as rich a blessing to your own spiritual life as it has been to mine, and may we both experience even greater joys in our Lord as we walk with Him in faith as did the one about whom this volume was written.

In Christian Love,

That was followed by his signature which I’ll omit but will add that he is, I believe, a retired pastor who lives in Colorado. I don’t know why he gave me that book but I’m grateful he did; perhaps he saw my spiritual life was in need of some refining, I’m sure it must have been as that book has also made an important contribution to my growth as a Christian man.

I mention this particular book because I believe it had a direct bearing on the early 20th Century ministry of Watchman Nee who was 2 years old at the time of Hudson Taylor’s death in 1905. Hudson Taylor was an early missionary to China in the late 19th Century and the first to go into the interior parts of China. That was a revolutionary concept at the time as missionaries ministered in port cities along the coast and maintained something of a detachment from the Chinese themselves. There was another way in which Hudson Taylor was a revolutionary missionary, he dressed in native garb and tried to blend with the population there.

Hudson TaylorHudson Taylor in Chinese Clothing

There was a remarkably significant difference to Hudson Taylor’s missionary effort as he was not supported by any of the major missionary organizations of the time. His was a missionary effort based on faith in the Lord alone and he had no guaranteed support from anyone. As his efforts began to bear fruit others joined him and started looking to him for leadership and direction. He selected an appropriate name for the effort, China Inland Mission, as the major thrust of their efforts was all in inland China.

The Lord blessed his efforts and China Inland Mission grew and along with that, his responsibilities as founder and leader of the effort. At a critical point in his life Hudson Taylor began to feel the load he was bearing was too much; he just couldn’t continue with things the way they had become.

The Lord had created a growth point for Hudson Taylor that was to change him forever and impact his 51 year ministry to the Chinese as well as Christians all over the world.

A Most Important Discovery

Chapter 13 in “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret,” is named “Days of Darkness” and describes the depths of misery and depression Hudson Taylor felt as the load he was carrying seemed to be crushing him in spite of his very best efforts. The Lord had driven him to a point where he had to give up on himself and start depending on the strength of the Lord to even survive. The chapter closes with this sentence, “You cannot be your own Savior, either in whole or in part.”

How sad it is that all too often we, who believe in salvation by faith alone, attempt to live out the Christian life in our own strength. Sooner or later all must discover the futility of such an effort or face frustration or defeat. Praise God Hudson Taylor made that discovery before it was too late; he finally came to realize that the Bible had been right all the time.

A copy of “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” is available by clicking on the link.

Next time, Thinking Again on “The Impossibility of Trying to be a Good Christian, (The Exchanged Life);” in it we discover God’s solution to the Christian’s challenge!

(The principle of “The Exchanged Life” is as important to the Christian man or woman as the principle of salvation by faith alone! That which was begun by faith must be continued by faith! This, and the following essay is on this vitally important subject and was first published in 2013.)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 7, 2020

A Golden Opportunity for You!

When I retired, I had absolutely no idea what I would do in my retirement years, no plan of any sort. The changes taking place in my company had opened the door for my graceful departure and I had decided the time had come for me to step aside; what was to be my life after retirement was still something of a mystery to me.

I don’t recall feeling any concern about the post-employment phase of my life and started the gradual process of adjustment which retirement would require of me.

Phase 1 of God’s Plan for my Golden Years

My failure to complete my seminary studies as a young man, had left me with that feeling of something unfinished which we’ve all experienced at one time or another. It was in December of 2008, four years and three months after my retirement, that the Lord would reveal phase 1 of his plan for me. I got a letter from Dallas Theological Seminary announcing a new program to permit students who had done work at seminary but did not graduate to return to school and complete their studies.

I was beside myself with excitement and reacted immediately; this was a wonderful opportunity I could not fail to pursue. Later, as I recall, I was told my application to the new program was the first one they received. By God’s grace, I was able to enroll at DTS to begin my studies the very next semester which started in January of 2009 and was able to graduate in May of that year, walk across the stage, and receive my diploma from Dr. Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary.

A Happy and Long-awaited Moment!

Wow, the burr under my saddle that had pestered me for 46 years was finally gone!

Phase 2 of God’s Plan for my Golden Years

In July of 2011, my wife suggested I write a blog; my initial reaction was negative as I protested, I was no writer. As wives are known to do, she did not let the matter drop and eventually she prevailed and I decided it might not be such a bad idea. I had recently been doing a small amount of genealogical research and had experienced some regret that I had never had the opportunity to discuss any deeper subjects with my father, or either of my grandfathers.

It occurred to me the blog could be one way of leaving a record of my thoughts on the deeper matters of life and spirituality for my children and grandchildren, etc. That way, they would never have to wonder what I thought about the deeper things of life.

To my surprise, it turned out I sort of enjoyed writing after all and have now published 426 essays over a period of almost 9 years. Generally, I try to publish one essay a week as the Lord moves me. At least my descendants will not have to wonder what I thought about the deeper things of life.

Phase 3 of God’s Plan for my Golden Years

In January of 2012, I saw a video, at church, about an organization that was seeking volunteers, Global Media Outreach. It was an online missionary program that one could participate in from home using a computer. Being a computer enthusiast, that seemed like a natural for me to follow up on. I sent in an application, was accepted and then took a training course for new applicants; on February 8th of 2012 I was accepted into Global Media Outreach as an “Online Missionary;”this Saturday, February 8th of 2020, will be my eighth anniversary as an online missionary with GMO.

Since then, I have devoted several hours each day to working with people all over the world and found it a great blessing! Recently I got an email from GMO requesting all online missionaries update, as needed, their personal information as GMO was getting ready to initiate a new operating program and wanted the information transferred to the new program to be as accurate as possible.

While checking that out, I re-discovered some data that had been accumulated by GMO on the work I had been doing for them; they regularly update the information based on our activity in the recent past. I thought it was interesting and decided to share it with my readers in the hopes of encouraging someone to join in the efforts at GMO.

Following is a world map showing the countries where I have worked with a total of 4,357 individuals and gotten 14,034 replies as of 2/6/2020.

Impact Map for David Bower

A Golden Opportunity for You!

I feel so blessed the Lord is using me in a productive way and encourage you to join me in this effort. You can set your own pace and spend as much time or as little time as your schedule permits. The only thing GMO asks is to abide by their rules and try and respond to seekers within 24 hours. For you this can vary from a few minutes a day to several hours a day depending on how the Lord moves you.

If you would like to check this opportunity out, here is the website where you can do just that: Global Media Outreach.

I would like to think GMO could offer you a “Golden Opportunity” for whichever phase of life you presently enjoy! May the Lord bless your “Golden Years” as he has blessed mine!

Looking Back

You’ve heard the expression or something equivalent, “the blinding glare of hindsight.” When looking back over our lives, we can see certain patterns with much greater clarity and definition. As I look back over mine, I can see the hand of the Lord dealing with me in loving grace and mercy. The promise God has made to each of us in Proverbs 3:5-6 becomes so real to me as I apply it to my life.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Many of the most significant events in my life were unexpected and unplanned; the Lord was working out his plan for my life and I had no idea what was coming. I have learned to make peace with that; accepting both the good and the bad as a manifestation of his gracious direction of my life. I think often on Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:11-13 where it is written:

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

While I, admittedly, am still learning, I’ve made great progress. My prayer for you is to rejoice in the Lord as his plan for your life unfolds before you!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 4, 2020

A Golden Opportunity for the Golden Years

A Long Time Ago I was a Young Man

Well, maybe a little older than that!

In some mysterious way, quite beyond my understanding, the Lord placed me in the home building business. Never once, as a I was growing up, did it ever even occur to me I would devote all of my productive middle years to the home building business. My early dream was to become a conductor of a major music organization and conduct great classical music.

The early subjects of my admiration were men like, Arturo Toscanini, Eugene Ormandy, and Sir Thomas Beecham; if I were to be called on to name my #1 hero of the time, it would probably be Arturo Toscanini. Needless to say, I was completely out of step with most of my peers at school.

I was 19 when I got married to my lovely wife, who was 17, and gradually began to realize that my chances for a career in classical music were slim to none; by that time, we had discovered the wonders of the Holy Bible and were delighting ourselves in the study of God’s word. By God’s grace we were blessed with some outstanding teachers who helped us hit the ground running.

While my spiritual growth resulted in a desire to serve in the ministry, our financial situation in those early years was just too precarious to permit me to finish seminary. The children were being born and the expenses involved in raising a family became a controlling factor in our lives. After some failed efforts to find a career, I was directed to a home building company by an employment agency in Houston, Texas and yes, I see the Lord’s hand in that also!

I had finally, at age 34, found a job in home building and land development that would last until I retired at age 71. Although I had never planned on working in this field, the Lord was gracious and blessed my efforts.

Middle Age Intrudes on my Life

As usually happens, I got older and began to realize that life would not always include a full-time job. Thoughts of old age and retirement occasionally flicked through my mind, from time to time, and I would casually wonder what my retirement years would be like; I had no idea what I would do or even what I would be able to do.

I didn’t really worry about it because of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I was curious, on occasion, what life would be like at my retirement. I began to formulate a proposed timetable for retirement; I would retire when I was 75. That worked, in my mind, for a while, but circumstances at work were evolving and I decided in the summer of 2004 to go ahead and retire at age 71; I retired on September 1, 2004 and began my “Golden Years” with absolutely no long-term plan.

The Golden Years

The first few months, after my retirement, were a major adjustment for me, I always had the feeling I was on holiday and would be returning to work soon. Eventually that feeling passed and I began to accept the reality of my new life.

The gracious and loving Lord who had watched over me all my life was going to reveal his plans for me in due course. One of my favorite scripture passages is found in Psalms 139:13-16 where it is written:

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”

What a marvelous privilege to rejoice in the Lord and his faithfulness to his children! The Lord had a plan for my life which would be revealed to me at the appointed time.

Next time, God’s Plan Revealed.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 29, 2020

Giants in the Land, Shame, One Last Giant in the Land

One More Giant that Lurks in the Land

It has occurred to me that there is one more very threatening giant in the land that attempts to scare you off and keep you from entering your resting place, your rainbow room of faith. This is the giant of shame, of remembered sins, the knowledge of past misdeeds that can hover in your memory. This giant is always whispering in your ear, bringing to mind things in your past where you failed miserably to measure up to God’s standards.

This giant is one of Satan’s most effective warriors in the spiritual warfare; he is an expert at immobilizing Christians, Satan’s enemies, of causing them to stumble and fall. He challenges their worthiness to even fight in the battle; who do they think they are, they with their many transgressions against the God they claim to serve.

The sad truth is all of us have sins in our past that we wish we could forget but all too often come back to haunt us. The Apostle John warned of this in 1 John 1:8-10 when he wrote:

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

God knew, from eternity past, that we would sin and fall short of the glory of God; that is why Christ died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins, past, present, and future. When each of us received Christ as Savior, the penalty for those sins was paid in full; the sin debt has been erased by the shed blood of Christ. Just as God had promised the land to Israel, God has promised us our sin debt is paid in full by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

You are Free of all Condemnation!

You must not listen to the giant called shame, he is whispering Satan’s lies to you hoping to immobilize you and keep you out of the land.  By faith you must join with Joshua and Caleb and believe God when you are told in Romans 8:1-4:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

You have been Transformed!

Paul explains our changed condition in Ephesians 2:1-10 when he writes:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When God, the Father, sees you He sees the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; this is God’s free gift to all who receive Christ as their Savior. It is not deserved, it cannot be earned, it is truly a free gift given by God’s grace, mercy and love to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

“As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Believe God, Believe His Promises and Enter into Your Rest.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 22, 2020

Giants in the Land, God’s Gift to You!

What Was Different About Joshua and Caleb?

Let’s think about Joshua and Caleb for a moment; as two of the twelve spies that were sent into the land, why did they have a different report from the other ten spies? Didn’t they all go together and see the same sights? Did they not also observe “the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large? We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Of course, they saw those same sights but with a different perspective, they saw those sights mixed with faith in God; God had told Israel He was giving them the land and Joshua and Caleb believed God! That is a profound difference that resulted in their going into the land while the others perished in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb had no idea how God would accomplish this but they were confident He could be trusted and would let them take the land as their new home. They were confident that God would step in and provide the help they needed so the land could be taken and their enemies defeated!

They saw the same problems the ten spies saw but had confidence in the promises of God and believed that God would not let them down!

You are Faced with the Same Choice Every Day!

As Christian men and women, life will inevitably present us with giants in the land, threats that take many different forms, but we have the same options, Joshua and Caleb had, available to us every day, we can walk by faith or walk by sight. Each of us face powerful people, some form of large fortified cities, those who are stronger than we are, even giants that make us feel like grasshoppers by comparison; will you see these as obstacles or opportunities?

What happened to Israel when they later entered the land under Joshua’s direction; were they not encouraged and emboldened when they saw those giants fall before the mighty hand of God? Didn’t the fall of those giants demonstrate again the faithfulness and power of almighty God? It became the giants turn to cry all night and grumble!

The Door is Still Open, the Invitation Still Stands!

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” Hebrews 4:1

As members of the true church, the body of Christ, we have a standing invitation to enter into God’s rest; this is a marvelous blessing which all should earnestly seek and find.

Israel, on the other hand, lost its opportunity to enter the land and was compelled to wander in the wilderness until that generation died off. You have not and will never be shut out of God’s rest; even if you have failed to enter his rest to this point in your life, you are still presented with the opportunity of entering God’s rest and may do so at any time; the door is open, the invitation stands!

A Bible Study on Hebrews

My wife taught a Bible study group in our home and was studying the Book of Hebrews with her class. She was using a sermon series on Hebrews and sent this follow-up message to her class.

“I want to emphasize two of the pastor’s illustrations in his sermon last Monday night. (The church where the sermon series was preached had a special place where children stayed while their parents were in the worship service; it is called “The Rainbow Room.’)

Little 2 year-old boy boldly and happily charges into the “Rainbow Room” every Sunday morning at their church because:

He belongs there! He is welcome there! He is loved there! He is happy there! He is brought there by his parents who belong to the church!

The point was; we have a “Rainbow Room”, too, ….a place where we belong, where we are completely welcome, a place of complete rest from our works, our worries, a place of joy, and happiness (and we have been brought there by Jesus to whom everything belongs.)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9-10.

The pastor’s daughter’s visit to Buckingham Palace and her time with the Queen of England.

The pastor was not bragging about his daughter. It really happened. While attending a university in London, she was invited to attend a very special event; a family member who works in the Royal household was to be decorated with a high honor. He was receiving this award for his years of outstanding service to the Queen. Because the pastor’s daughter is a member of the family, and was WITH him and his family, she was invited and permitted to be in this relatively small room with the Queen and many other high-ranking officials and visitors. None of her friends back at the university believed her. She was given a video of her visit, and we have seen it. Impressive. One friend told her later, “I believe that you believe you were there!” So funny.

The pastor’s point was; his daughter was admitted and welcomed to that inner circle because of whom she was (a member of the honoree’s family) and who she was with.

We are invited to the “Rainbow Room” (The Sabbath-Rest), because of who we are, children of the King of Kings. We go in with Him; He says “She’s with me!” and we are permitted into this special place of rest and peace…..NOW, right NOW. We enter by complete faith in Him, our Savior and Redeemer. Remember, the writer of Hebrews is writing to believers; he is not talking about our eternal presence with the Lord after death. That is settled; whether we enter His Sabbath-Rest in time is our choice for the here and now.

Do we go boldly into our Sabbath-Rest (the Rainbow Room) and find peace every time or do we stand outside in our unbelief and fear, looking in and continuing in our worries and complaints…always doubting the Lord’s ability, love, and promises?

Pray, believe Him and go on in. You are welcome there!”

I thought this summed up the nature of your opportunity to enter into God’s rest very well and add my best wishes for your successful entrance into your “Rainbow Room.”

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Next time, “Giants in the land, Shame, One Last Giant in the Land”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 15, 2020

Giants in the Land, God’s Gift to Israel

 God’s Promise to Israel

In Numbers 13:1 the Lord makes a wonderful promise to Israel when He tells Moses:

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Israel had seen the mighty hand of God deliver them from their oppressive servitude to Egypt, part the Red Sea, drown Pharaoh’s pursuing forces and lead them safely to the borders of their promised land. Now God was telling them to go and check out God’s great gift to them. This should have been a time of triumphant rejoicing as they took their first glimpse at their new home, a land flowing with milk and honey as they reported to Moses:

“27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”

If they would only have stopped there, their lives would have been totally different; sadly, they threw in a “but” that would have devastating results on all but two of the spies that went into the land.

28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”……..31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

That was the report of ten of the 12 spies that were sent; there was a minority report from two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, who insisted, to no avail, that they could take possession of the land:

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Unfortunately for Israel, they believed the majority report and we are told in Numbers 14:1-2:

14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!

Their words would come back to haunt them because in Numbers 14:27-30 the Lord tells Moses and Aaron:

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.”

What a tragic failure of faith; instead of going into the promised land, Israel would wander about in the wilderness until all those 20 years of age and older had died in the wilderness; ““If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!” became a reality for all of them.

What Would You Have Done?

As we read that familiar story, we may wonder how we would have chosen, would we have joined with Joshua and Caleb or the ten faithless spies? We would certainly hope we would have joined with Joshua and Caleb but would we have actually done that? Can we be certain we would have chosen to walk by faith and not by sight to join with two men when there were so many who doubted?

The fact of the matter is we are presented with that option every day; we can choose to live our lives by faith or by sight; we can choose whether or not to enter into our rest every day that passes. In Hebrews 3:7-19 we are warned to not harden our hearts against the promises of God.

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

The Challenge to You Today

Today there can appear to be giants in the land; these take many forms and can threaten to overwhelm us. These giants may appear at work, at home, or anyplace and threaten our peace and safety. We too have promises from God and invitations to trust Him to watch over us and care for us.

We are given the opportunity to respond by sight or by faith so how will we respond, with the ten or with the two? When you face the future are you all too often weeping and grumbling, 14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled” or do you display the spirit of faith in the promises of God and say, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” The choice is yours, choose to walk by faith and not by sight!

Next time, “Giants in the Land, God’s Gift to You”

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 8, 2020

Joining the Ranks of the Faithful and Entering Your Land of Promise!

Joshua, Caleb, and David

This past Sunday we heard an excellent message by Dave Kinney, our Discipleship Pastor, on the subject of David and Goliath. It stirred my thoughts on the parallels between David, and Joshua and Caleb, who had lived many centuries earlier. In both cases they were faced with what seemed to others as insurmountable obstacles but appeared to them as achievable objectives.

I have written on the situation that faced Israel as it emerged from the wilderness, and stood on the border of the “Promise Land:” how the 12 spies were sent into the land and all but 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a negative report of hopelessness as there were “Giants in the Land.”

David First

In David’s case, the army of Israel had been immobilized by a huge Philistine warrior named Goliath; not one soldier in the army of Israel was prepared to stand and do battle with Goliath.

Goliath had a very formidable appearance, in 1 Samuel 17:4-7 we read:

“4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.”

From a human perspective, Goliath would have been overpowering as a battle opponent and sadly, that just happened to be the way the army of Israel was seeing him. What is interesting to note is David’s attitude toward Goliath from the very first; Goliath’s appearance was never a factor in his thinking!

“26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?””

In effect, David was already counting his reward for slaying Goliath; the outcome had already been decided and David would kill Goliath in battle and win the reward offered by King Saul! That is a sublime example of walking by faith and not by sight; David’s confidence in the Lord is again shown in verse 48:

“48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.”

No hesitancy or trepidation there, David runs to meet Goliath in battle! Such faith helps us understand God’s affection for David!

Caleb and Joshua Second

David’s reaction to Goliath is similar in tone to the reply given by Caleb when he reacted to the negative report given by the ten spies:

“30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

As a result of their lack of faith, the ten spies who gave the bad report were struck dead by a plague;

“36 The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land—the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report— 37 were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.”

Eventually Joshua and Caleb entered the land and led the victorious battles that won the land for Israel; but only after the word of the Lord had been fulfilled:

29 You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. 30 You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Israel wandered in the wilderness until every one of those, 20 and over who had been included in the registration, had died in the wilderness; only then did the Lord permit Israel to enter their promised land!

You and Me Third

Life can be counted on to bring the unexpected; it may not be today, or tomorrow, or even next week, but somewhere down the road, you are going to encounter the insurmountable obstacle in your life. At that point you will have the opportunity to become a kindred spirit with David, Joshua, and Caleb and countless others, or you can join the ranks of those who lack the faith to believe God.

As Christians, our eternal destiny has been assured by the sacrifice on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; what is in question is our quality of life and service as Christian men and women during the years of our mortality. As soldiers of the cross, we live out our entire lives on a spiritual battlefield; the New Testament is filled with words of caution on fighting the battle in the power of the Lord.

We simply must live a life of faith and not a life based on sight; we have a Godly helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us in this battle and should always look to him for the strength needed to prevail in this spiritual war. I have revised and will again publish the series on Giants in the Land; it will show the opportunities we have been given to join the ranks of the faithful and enter our land of promise!

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 3, 2020

The Unseen Battle

Our ability to see and hear what is going on around us is very limited and this is probably a great blessing. As it happens, we are living our lives on a spiritual battlefield where a serious battle has been raging for thousands of years. Forces, beyond our comprehension, are fighting a battle that will continue on earth, eventually spread to heaven, and be finally won by the Lord Jesus Christ at his Second Advent.

Pastor, Jeff Wells has recently written on this battle and I have posted it below.

“The Unseen Battle

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back. Revelation 12:7

We live in a world of unseen spiritual reality.  Ninety-eight percent of matter is invisible, so perhaps it is no surprise that there is an invisible world of spiritual reality.  Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

From Genesis to Revelation, we are told of an unseen spiritual world, a world of angels and demons, a world of epic spiritual battle.  In Revelation 12, the curtain is pulled back on the spiritual realm, and we see the fierce battle raging across the cosmos.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rev. 12:7-9).

We may not be certain what all the symbols of Revelation refer to, but there is no mistaking the reality of the battle.  What does the Bible teach us about this battle?

 You are a target in the battle.

Yes, you.  Satan and his demons will try to devour your soul and ruin your life.  They use deception, condemnation, accusation, temptation and intimidation.  Be alert!

Fight this battle in Christ’s strength.

Put on the full armor of God and be strong in the Lord, not in yourself.

Fight the battle with your sword.

Just like Jesus in Matthew 4, wield your sword, the Word of God, to defeat the enemy.  We ignore God’s Word at our spiritual peril.

Worship is a powerful weapon in the war.

The root issue of the war is worship.  Satan wants the worship that rightfully belongs to God.  When we worship God, we declare our love and loyalty to God.  We draw near to God.  God pours out his Spirit upon us and demons flee.  Worship is warfare.

Prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie.

 John Piper puts it best in Let the Nations Be Glad:

We cannot know what prayer is for until we know that life is war.  Life is war.  That’s not all it is.  But it is always that.  Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth.  Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.  It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.  God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world.”

December 27, 2019

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This was recently published by Jeff Wells, Senior Pastor of WoodsEdge Community Church. I thought it very interesting and timely! I have written more on this in the three part series, “To the Soldiers in the Spiritual War.”

Painting, “East of Eden” © Adele Bower

 

 

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