Issue 1, Number 12: “Conflicts in My Life – Part 1 of 3”

Recently in going trough some of my father’s materials, I found an unfinished manuscript titled Conflicts in my life. I wish he had finished it, but I enjoyed reading it and believe it contains beneficial information especially for young people. I plan to publish it in three installments in my A Christian’s Voice From Raymore column on my blog. I invite you to read along with me and post your comments. So here is …

Conflicts in my Life – Part 1 of 3

By

William C. “Bill” Sexton

Life is filled with conflicts; many times one must choose between alternatives. Looking back, one can see that he/she has chosen the wrong one at times; but once made, he can not change it, and the choice certainly had its impact one one’s destiny. The sooner one is aware of this great conflict, I believe, the sooner he’ll be able to act more wisely; he’ll be looking for the alternatives and perhaps be better informed regarding them. He’ll never have the time to research for all the information available, which could enable him to make the right decision, but he can use the little time he has to avail himself of a few different facets of information and make a better decision than he otherwise would.

Every person’s life is different, to a degree, and yet dependent on many persons and factors. No two lives are exactly the same. Every person occupies a space by himself, and a time span that is peculiar to him only. As one looks back on his life, he remembers certain acts and events that made his impression; he can’t remember them all, and different times he’ll remember different ones, and as he does, he remembers other matters associated. Perhaps we could profit greatly if we’d spend more time meditating on the import that these different events had on shaping and forming our present character and mind set. It is with these purposes in mind that I approach the present work. 1. I’ll find some comfort in recalling events as they occurred in my life; 2. I’ll see how and why I am what I am, to a degree; 3. Perhaps, I can make others aware of the fact that they face alternatives daily, that there are conflicting forces at work in the world, and of necessity they will have their effect on one’s character, attitude, and destiny.

THE CONFLICT OF GOING TO SCHOOL

It was a Sunday afternoon, the day before school started. A beautiful day, as I remember, back there in Arkansas, in 1943. A man who lives around the mountain about two miles, came by as we were sitting under the shade tree, and asked me if I would plow for him the next day. After a little reflection, I said “yes.” I had decided to start Ozark high school the next day, with one of my cousins. (I had quit school a couple of years before, but I was still 15. She was starting to high school so I had decided to go back and get my “diploma.”) But now with this request to work and make a little money — and indeed little it turned out to be — was enough to cause me to decide to work instead of continuing in school. What a great mistake that was, as I would learn later in life. I had opened a door leading to great opportunities in the future but I closed it for a few pennies now. As one has said, I opted for “a short time gain with a long time pain.”

So many young people repeat the mistake I made. So, to the young person, I would urge with all the power I possess– Get the education while you have the opportunity. Yes, there are and shall eve be different things pulling at you. Foolishness will say to you, “Enjoy the pleasure NOW!, “Education is not that important, anyway,” or “Wisdom is getting by without an education, after all what’s a piece of paper?”

Now, even more so than in my early days, one needs a good education to be able to make the contribution that he can and to reap the benefits — fruits — that are available in this world.

However, thee are dangers connected with an education, too. The right kind of an education is extremely important. There are many things taught in school, which are contrary to the basis truth of the scriptures. God is left out, and often “anti-God” teaching is done. But, perhaps more dangerous is not outright anti-God teaching, rather it is more subtle — world views that are contrary to the Bible teaching that God created the world and all that in it is.

Pride, can accompany educational achievements, too. One can get degrees and fool himself into thinking he knows more than he actually does. I believe the real educated person will not be puffed up in pride about how much he knows, but rather will be humbled by seeing that he knows so little of all that there is to be known.

Young people often go off to college, however, having been reared in “Christian homes,” but where little serious study was ever done on evidences of God, the inspiration of the scriptures, or the the divine origin of Christianity. They may have heard some overly critical remarks about evolution that were not accurate and sustainable. In the end, they are unable to face the philosophy professor, or the sociology and psychology professors and the ideology they present. Consequently they decide that the narrow minded people back home were too ignorant. They decide that they must face up to the new world of research, etc.. and so they lose their religion, their faith in God and things that pertain to life and godliness.

(To Be Continued in Part 2 of 3 next week.)


Reflections – November 28, 2009

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Today’s first reading celebrates the gift of God’s covenant. Throughout the psalm various terms are used to describe the instruction that God provides us through His Word. He demands my whole-hearted obedience! He demands that I have an upright heart! I am reminded that storing His Word in my heart is the secret to keeping my way pure. I can remember my father, in the early days of his Christian walk, determining that his influence would not be what it should be if he continued the habit of smoking cigarettes which he had picked up in his younger days. He carried a small new testament in his pocket and when he felt the urge to smoke, he would pull the new testament out and read. Over a period of time, he was able to overcome this harmful habit.

The second reading introduces us to the man Job and Satan’s questioning of the genuineness of his integrity. The conversation recorded here, between God and Satan, has always intrigued me. Some may mistakenly begin their lives as Christian’s thinking that God has put a “hedge” around them. But this certainly is not the case. Although God has promised, that things will eventually work together for good for His children (Romans 8:28), he has not promised us a life free of sorrow, pain and temptation. That life is reserved for heaven (Revelation 21:4; Galatians 5:19-21).

Today’s Readings: Psalm 119:1-88; Job 1; Isaiah 22; John 18:28-19:16

Isaiah’s fourth oracle against Jerusalem is presented. He identifies again the failure of its leaders. The ESV Study Bible says of this oracle, “The people of Jerusalem are marked by mindless escapism and frantic self-salvation… These verses reveal the irony of attentive energies given to military readiness with thoughtless inattention to the sovereign God who controls the situation.”

The final reading from John’s gospel reminds me of the cruel punishment that Jesus endured for me! He was flogged by Pilate. The crown of thorns and the purple robe of mockery ridiculed Jesus’ claims. The cruel words of those to whom he had preached, cried over and over, “Crucify Him, crucify him!” I am mindful of the fact that I crucify Him afresh when I fail to honor Him with my obedience (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 27, 2009

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do to me! The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation! I thank the Lord that He has answered me and has become my salvation! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine upon us! Lord, as I begin this day, I give you thanks. You are my God; I will extol You for you are good and Your steadfast love endures forever!

The historical account of the short reign of Gedaliah as governor of the Babylonian-occupied Judah is the subject of today’s second reading. Gedeliah’s assassination and King Evil-merodach’s release of Jehoiachin from prison fill out the remainder of the reading.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 118; 2 Kings 25:22-30; Isaiah 21; John 18:1-27

Isaiah delivers his second series of oracles. Today’s reading deal with the wilderness by the sea, Dumah and Arabia. The purpose of all is to show God ruling over the nations. Isaiah’s description of his appointment as a watchman by the Lord is one that resonates with me. The role of a watchman is to keep constantly alert and to faithfully report whatever he sees. A key role of the watchman is to send warning to those he has been assigned to watch over. I consider one of my responsibilities as a parent to be a watchman over my kids. I also accept this role, in a broader sense, for all children growing up in a culture designed to appeal to their innocence to sell products and to further the cause of those who have less than pure motives. I wrestle with “constructive discontent” from time to time as I look for ways to be of greater service as a watchman in the Kingdom of Christ and in my community.

John’s gospel, paints the word picture of the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. The shuffling of Jesus between them, by Jewish and Roman officials, demonstrates just how biased were their attempts to point blame at Him. They sought to bring to bring Him to trial and to execute Him based upon their prejudices, not for any wrong that He had done. One of the points Jesus makes is, that all that He taught was open and above board. He was not conspiring to lead a coup to take political or military power from them. The straight-forwardness of His words and actions contrasts sharply with those of Roman and Jewish officials of His day. The denials by Peter and the re-affirmation by Jesus, of the purpose of His coming into the world, close out today’s reading. As I reflect upon these events described by John, I am reminded once again that not everyone will accept Jesus, when confronted with the truth that He brought to the world. Some feel threatened by the power that Jesus seeks to usurp in our lives. He requires number one spot in our hearts. Some feel intimidated by the commitment that Jesus asks us to make, in loving Him more than father, mother, son or daughter (Matthew 10:37).

Have a blessed day, dear reader! May the Lord’s light shine upon you!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 26, 2009

On this Thanksgiving Day 2009, we join the psalmist in inviting all nations to praise the Lord! His steadfast love and faithfulness are to be praised! As you read today and as you begin your day, say a prayer for those who are struggling to find the WAY to Him; to experience His steadfast love and faithfulness!

Today’s history lesson tells of the 11-year reign of twenty-one-year old Zedekiah as the last king of Judah before it’s surrender to Babylonian domination and occupation. The destruction and the sorrow of that time is described in great detail. In the nineteenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar it occurred; the house of the Lord and all the houses of Jerusalem were burned, the walls of the city were broken down and people were carried into exile. Key religious and political leaders were humiliated and killed by the Babylonian king. What do you and I learn from this history lesson? This and other scriptural accounts of the tragic consequences that result from leaving God out of one’s life ought to be enough to cause us to make the right choices. Sadly, this is not always the case. Lord, help me today to make those right choices!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 117; 2 Kings 24:18-25:21; Isaiah 19-20; John 17

The lesson from prophecy today is this – not to place our hope in those who offer to deliver us through physical strength and power but to place our hope in God. Isaiah 20:6 is a key verse in this section. Remember Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th kings of Judah (Jotham, Ahaz,and Hezekiah; 740-710 BC) so it precedes the events of 2 Kings 24 and 25. Lord, help me to HEAR the wisdom in these words and to live with you as my hope today!

Jesus’ words, spoken through John, speak to my heart this morning to say, “Randy Sexton, I sent My Son into this world to show you how to live! Live today, and every day, the way He lived. Glorify Him and accomplish the work that I have given you to do. Protect the little ones and help guide the ones who have lost their way back to me. Lead your family through the low valleys of darkness and doubt. Lead them up to the mountain top to see the exhilarating view of the promised land. Then lead them over the Jordan and into the City of God where you will live with them and with Me forever.”

Have a blessed day, dear reader! Give God thanks and give Him praise! Be an influence to lead others to that promised land, to take up eternal residence in the City of God!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 25, 2009

I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. As Thanksgiving approaches and I read this psalm, I can reflect upon how bountifully the Lord has blessed me! This first reading also provides comfort for us, at times of loss, how the Lord views the death of His saints.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 116; 2 Kings 23:31-24:17; Isaiah 17-18; John 16:16-33

Today’s history lesson from 2 Kings, tells us about the Babylonian army’s capture of Jerusalem and the significant deportations that followed. As I read this history, I continue to be impressed by the Lord’s active involvement in the affairs of men. I look for His active involvment in my life as well.

Isaiah’s oracle against Damascus and Cush should cause me to reflect upon the consequences of forgetting the God of my salvation. Lord, help me to take heed, lest I fall.

John’s words describe more of the interaction between Jesus and His disciples during His last hours before crucifixion. He speaks of the mixed emotions they would have.

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

Reflections – November 24, 2009

The first reading today, reminds me, it is not about me! It is not about us! It is all about the Lord! Not to Us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name we give glory! I will trust in you this day because You have proved your steadfast love and your faithfulness toward me! I will trust in you no matter what may befall me today! You are my help and my shield.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 115; 2 Kings 23:1-30; Isaiah 15-16; John 15:18-16:15

The story of the reforms of Josiah continue in today’s second reading. He left quite a legacy, but it was too late to divert the impending judgement against Judah. I pray that, from the legacy that I leave my wife and kids, they remember me as a man who loved God and family and sought to serve with all my heart, soul and mind. Josiah set the bar high! He “turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to the Law of Moses.” Before him there was no king who served God with such passion nor did any like him arise after him.

Isaiah presents his third oracle against Moab (a parallel passage is Jeremiah 48). Amidst the darkness, gloom and desolation of the Assyrian oppression, Isaiah offers the hope of the throne, that will be established in steadfast love, occupied by one who will judge, seek justice and be swift to do righteousness. How blessed am I to live at a time in history when I have benefit of the panoramic view of God’s plan for the redemption of man! May I never look so myopically at the current secular, humanistic culture that I forget that I have the completed revelation God before me.

In the final reading today, Jesus prepares His disciples to carry on His work, after he goes back to heaven. He tells them to expect hatred as one reaction to their preaching and teaching. He was concerned that this hatred and persecution might cause some to “fall away.” He speaks specifically to the 11 disciples, whom He had called to be His apostles, when He speaks of the coming of the Helper. He had a special mission for them; to implement the inauguration of His church on Pentecost. He tells them to look for the “Helper” who will help them remember things that He had taught them and guide them in what to say and to speak and to write. He says that He still had many things to say to them but they were not able to bear them now. So when would He say these additional things to them? I believe the implication is that, the full significance of many things that He had taught them would not “hit them” until they were in specific situations and the Spirit/Helper brought the remembrance to them. There are a few passages where this point is specifically made (Luke 24:6-8; John 12:16; Acts 11:16). Lord help me today, to apply Your Word as I encounter specific situations in my life, thus bringing to my remembrance what You did and taught.

Have a blessed day, dear reader!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 23, 2009

Tremble, O earth at the presence of the Lord! He turns the rock into a pool of water! I like what the ESV Study Bible says of the words of our first reading, “This hymn of praise celebrates the special status of God’s people in His plan: the Lord is the one whom all nature obeys, and even trembles before, and yet he has chosen little Israel to be His own, and He exerts His power on their behalf.”

The second reading describes how the eight-year old king Josiah, assisted by Shaphan his secretary and Hilkiah the high priest, picks up again, where Jehoash (2 Kings 12:7-8) had left off, making repairs to the temple. Even more significant was the action he took after finding the Book of the Law during the course of repairs. The reading of the Book lead him to understand the apostate condition of worship in Judah. This caused him great grief and despair but he begins to take steps to correct the situation. I have known people in whose lives God’s book has been lost for years, but when they found it they obeyed. I have known others who have continued to live in rebellion to God, using departed loved ones as an excuse. Perhaps you have heard people say, “If I obey the gospel, I will be implying that my dear departed mother is in hell.” Lord, may we always be willing to take the steps necessary to humble ourselves before You!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 114; 2 Kings 22; Isaiah 13-14; John 15:1-17

Isaiah, ever the steady voice of reason and the mouth-piece of God, delivers his first series of “oracles” against the nations of Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia. In so doing he reveals God as the ruler of the world and the writer of history. He governs the course of all nations, holding them accountable for their deeds. Reflecting upon the words of Isaiah, I am reminded that He that is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Finally today, Jesus’s words give me further hope and confidence as I face the uncertainties of life. I am persuaded that, if I abide in Him, He will abide in me. “I know not why Christ in love redeemed me for His own … I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me …. I know not when my Lord may come, at night or noon-day fair… But ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.'” (“I Know Whom I Have Believed,” Daniel W. Whittle, 1883, based upon 2 Timothy 1:12).

Have a blessed day, dear friend!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 22, 2009

Today has been a busy one, so I am reading and posting at the end of the day. It was a great day spent in the presence of God in His house and with His people. I trust that it was for you as well. Praise the Lord! He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. The name of the Lord is to be praised!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 113; 2 Kings 21; Isaiah 11-12; John 14

As this day draws to a close, I think on Manasseh’s evil influence on a nation, even at the age of twelve when he began to reign. Fifty-two years of doing more evil and leading God’s people astray. Actions that brought “disaster” in judgement from the Lord. I consider the woe prophesied by Isaiah because of the mistreatment of the needy, widows, and fatherless. I see the sending of Assyria as the vehicle of judgment and then the judgement that comes upon Assyria when that nation begins to believe that it is because of their own strength and wisdom that they have become the dominant force at this time in history.

I don’t always understand why things happen and what forces are being used by God to work out His plan and His will in the lives of His faithful ones. It is important for me to stay continually in His Word. It should not surprise me that I am more spiritually minded when I am daily feeding upon His Word! The transformation that the Messiah brought into the world is ever before me as I read Isaiah’s prophecy. Behold God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid.

I pillow my head tonight in the comfort of the words of Jesus that He has gone to prepare a place for me and that He will come again to take me with Him to His Father’s house. Thank you Jesus for that promise!

–Randy Sexton