A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Volume 7, September 4, 2005 Number 42

Editors Note: With the Labor Day Weekend upon us, I thought it appropriate to reprint the last Labor Day edition of A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren that my father ever wrote. He published this bulletin on Labor Day 2005 and passed from this life the following May. In it you will find, among other things, a short piece he wrote reflecting upon the tendency to travel far and wide on this holiday, but he asks us to reflect upon how much thought we give to ensuring that our surroundings are spiritually uplifting. How much planning do we put into ensuring that we will be with God’s people on the First Day of the week? Also in this issue is a poem that he wrote, Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor. I commend it to your reading.

A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Man uses his voice and pen to convey thoughts. Paul mentions using words that by his voice he might “teach others” (1 Cor. 14:19). John says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17). My aim is to challenge, inform, and invite – us all to Listen to the VOICE of God. Editor Bill Sexton. 802 Adeline Lane, Van Buren, AR 72956-3530. Phone 479-474-2617. Car phone: 479-650-8399>>> I Have Voice Mail, call me and I can pick it up

Volume 7, September 4,  2005 Number 42

 

This Week’s Challenges

We are practicing: Memory, Meditation, and Application

  1. Memorize (Isa 28:16)
  2. Meditation: Who is that foundation, searching the New Testament one will se that it is Christ
  3. Application: How wonderful to see that the foundation stone is secure, and we can and should build on it (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:19020)

 

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody even got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

~Author Unknown~

     Labor Day weekend, how many people will be traveling, even with the HIGH gas prices, Etc.!?

This is another holiday and we Americans have the habit of traveling far and near, changing places to spend our time. How many will plan ahead about their worship of God, meeting with the saints (Heb. 10:24), studying the message from heaven to be lifted up spiritually?

It is wonderful to have the opportunity, means and freedom that we do have in our land to travel, go places and see things, and visit with relatives, etc. Yet, do we THINK as much about the type of environment we are in? THINK about the benefit of meeting our brothers and sister in the Lord, and how we SHOULD enjoy their company, and how beneficial it is to us to get to know more of our brother and sisters.

Beloved, let us see the NEED to place God first in our lives, and see the benefit of doing so (Matt. 6:33). However, in this busy work, with all the opportunities to travel, communicate, and be entertained, we are likely to spend the greater portion of our resources on the WRONG thing, in the place that is not appropriate to our spiritual growth, safety, and spiritual health. Let us be wise, loyal to the Lord and demonstrate to those observing our behavior that we are TRULY Christians, belonging to Christ. He is our Lord!

 

Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor

 Work is a four letter word many dislike

Yet, we all know that it is necessary and good

If we are active in the right things

Then to the work, to the work, we can/do sing!

 

So let us THINK on the right tract,

See God’s word on this and other matters of fact

If we are doing the Lord’s work all will be fine

There’s plenty to do, looking in His word we find

 

Labor is wonderful to be able to do

This day we may honor by looking at it truly

God has ordained that man be busy as he could

In his daily activity, for his own good

Jn. 9:4; 1 Cor. 15:58

Bill Sexton, 8-31-2005

     Today’s Schedule for Yours Truly: !0:20A.M. Preaching at Van Buren, Sermons: The Storms Of Life Sermon –Lk. 8:22-25; Matt. 8:24-27). Tonight at 6:00 PM Singing at Van Buren

 

Excuses for departing from God’s graceful Path

In most any city one can find a number of people who began to serve the Lord some time ago, but now are out of service. Why? The reasons given may be many. In truth, however, all of them are excuses, only! There is no real reason for one to fall away (Lk. 14:15-24). Satan has a hand in each, but none can rightful blame him; each must accept personal responsibility for one’s action. Warning after warning is given (Cf.1 Cor. 10:12-13; Heb. 3:12).

Each of us needs to recognize that we may contribute to discouragement, etc., and be careful that we do not lend a hand to Satan to distract and destroy, because he has and will use every device (2 Cor. 2:11).

Each of us may be tempted to turn aside in some fashion, being influenced in one way or another, but let us be honest enough with ourselves to admit we are responsible! We’ll have to pay! There are all types of rationalizations one can make in trying to get around our personal responsibility. Yet, let us all remember that if we really want to be saved eternally, we’d better meet the standard ( Jn. 12:28; Rom. 2:16), to be recipients of God’s grace.

Perhaps there is not enough time spent on considering various factors that may influence us to turn aside, back, or around. Prayerful consideration should be given to the matter.

Likewise, there is likely not enough effort made to see that we do not discourage one another, so that Satan may deceive us into giving in to something (2 Cor. 11:1-3) that will destroy us.

Yet, we need to have indelible stamped on our brain — we DO NOT HAVE TO YIELD to any of these influences (Jas. 4:7).

Let us look at a few people who may be -instrumental in causing others to turn aside.

1. Preachers are to be examples ( 1 Tim. 4:12), but they can lead others astray –or give them cause to distrust and play into the hand of the evil one. How many people are out of service, partly, because they trusted a preacher and then had him betray their trust? Peter was instrumental in influencing Barnabas to “be carried away” with dissimulation, participate in something that deserved rebuking (Gal. 2:11-13).

2. Elders and deacons can fail to lead and serve to the extent that some members become discouraged, and think “what’s the use,” and yield to weaknesses.

3. Being overly concern with and involvement in everyday activities of “making a living,” paying the bills, educating and entertaining our children, can take us away from our duty of attending all the services, participating in Bible classes, spending time to invite others into our homes, spend valuable time with others to influence for good!

4. Family demands are many, to be sure and they are very important, yet they must not be allowed to derail our train of service to God (Matt 10:37-39; Lk. 14:25-33).

Yes, beloved, there are many avenues of influence that are away from God and His Son Jesus Christ. Let us first be convinced that we, individually are responsible because we are able capable of resisting the temptations — with God’s help and grace and mercy! (Phil. 1:12-13).

Let us look at a few things that may turn us/others aside.       1. Immorality –we may come to think that life is too dull serving the Lord, and determine to “enjoy life,” as seen through the blinders Satan provides.

2. Wealth may come to attract our attention and cause us to give too much of our time in obtaining it.

3. Laziness –we may decide we want to REST when we should be practicing our religion — attending services, helping others, taking time to teach others the gospel of Christ!                                        –William C. “Bill” Sexton

 

 

MIS-USED WORDS

There are many words which are miss-used In today’s religious world.  When teaching the truth, I am accused-And hateful, angry words are hurled.

One word, of which I speak, is “Pastor”, Used by ‘most every denomination. The way it is used is truly a disaster and causes God much consternation.

Pastor simply means “to feed”, Acts 14:23 Acts 20:17, 28 and referred to a plural group of men. I Pt. 5:1-4 The “Elders” were responsible for the “seed”, which would guard their flock from sin.(Singular)

“Reverend” is another miss-used word—It was never applied to any man. To make that application is absurd—It was never a part of God’s holy plan. Holy and “Reverend” is HIS name, And that applies only to almighty GOD. Ps. 111:9. Man’s using it for himself is a shame, For, before the almighty, man is only a clod.

When Christ said, “I will build my ‘church’ “— To a physical structure He didn’t make mention. If, the scriptures, you will thoroughly search, You will find, that was not His intention.

“Church” simple means ‘those who are called out’ I Thes. 2:12; II Thes. 2:14; Rm 8:30 .Coming from darkness, into the kingdom of light.. A “spiritual house” are all the devout,  I Pt. 2:5, 9 Who have left the darkness and sinful blight.

And, what a miss-use of the word “priest”, This, too, is such a sinful shame. With Christ the old system of priesthood ceased; Heb. 11:7-8; Rev.1:6Now, every Christian is called by that name.  I Pt. 2:5, 9; Rm.12:1

The next I would mention is the word “baptize”. It is a word which means to “immerse”.  And most do not seem to realize. Without immersion, they are under God’s curse. But it must be for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38. That, as for Paul, they would be washed away. Acts 22:16. That is the ONLY way that Christ will cleanse  Rm.6:3-5 And lead you into the light of day.  There are many such words in the bible which man, in his foolishness, miss-uses. When, in truth, he is committing libel. When, the gospel of Christ he, thus, abuses.

Oh, well meaning but foolish, religious man, Mt. 7:21-23. Please consider the use in the gospel of Christ. Don’t try to change it, but yield to His plan. For nothing else has ever sufficed –By L. B. Strawn May 11 & 12, 1998 *****

Editor’s Note: There are so many Bible words that are misused, perhaps the above will assist in keeping some of them before our mind! Let each of us labor to call Bible things by Bible names, as well as do Bible things in Bible ways! For, you see, some day we’ll stand before the Lord (Matt 7:21-23). How terrible if we have spent so much time, effort and resources misusing what the Lord  provided us with and then hear: “ I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I know that to some people this is “Legalism,” but I had rather be accepted by the Lord, even though I’m classified by man in various uncomplimentary fashions (Matt. 5:11-12), than to avoid their criticism and be rejected by the Lord.

I remember that the people Paul spoke of in (Romans 1:18-32,) professed themselves to be “wise,” when in fact they were very foolish. Shall we be as they were? Or, shall we be seen as “foolish” by man while we embrace the “wisdom of God” (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:23-25)? Beloved, I prefer to be seen as foolish by my fellow man, wordily creatures than to be thus seen and classified by my Lord and Maker. I challenge each of us to look carefully at the words used in the New Testament and let the Lord’s meaning be established in our mind.   William C. “Bill” Sexton

Reprinted from Van BurenVanGuardin 1998

 

BOOK OF 1 TIMOTHY – Chapter 2.

Introduction: In the second chapter of this book, Paul begins by expressing his desire that prayer be made for various people. Also, there are various types of prayer. God’s desire relative to all men is expressed. He points to the proper position of women, looking back to the deception of Eve.

His exhortation is that as a “first” order of priority supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. Thus we see that it is proper to pray for all persons, but each category will have different needs, and we should recognize and comply with that fact. Then he identifies one category of men: kings, and all that are in authority. We should recognize that these people affect our lives, and we should see the need to pray that they would perform so that we can receive benefit from their rule. The benefit we should desire and pray for is: “we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

The inspired apostle shows why the prayer and benefit we may receive is: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” For he shows that God would have all to be saved, by coming to the knowledge of truth. That involved some fundamental facts: That is only ONE God and One MEDIATOR who can legitimately and effectively come “between” God and man –Jesus Christ, who was deity and man! He gave himself a ransom for all men everywhere, to “be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6)

In face of the facts just stated, Paul claims that he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle,” also a “teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”  As he preaches the truth in Christ, he speaks of the need for men to pray, with “holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” In similar fashion, he wants women to “adorn themselves properly in “modest apparel,” and that is with shamefacedness and sobriety. The attention is not to be given by the hair, jewelry of gold, pearls and expensive clothing.  Their conduct is to manifest itself in professed godliness accompanied with good works (1 Tim. 2:7-10).

He points to the subjection of women –they should learn in respectable submission. Women are limited in their realm of teaching. She is NOT to “usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” The basis for this goes back to the early behavior of the woman, Eve. She was deceived by the serpent and persuaded her husband to be involved in “transgression,”: although he was not deceived. Yet we need to understand, woman can still be saved. One of her functions is “childbearing.” She needs to “continue in faith,” as well as in charity/love, holiness/being set aside for God’s service, and doing this with “sobriety.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. In light of what does he “therefore,” exhort be done “first” (1 Tim. 2:1)?

 

  1. Name differ kinds of speaking to God are called for and for whom (1 Tim. 2:1-2)?

 

  1. What is the aim of prayers in man’s benefit (1 Tim. 2:2)

 

  1. What is “good and acceptable” to God and His desire concerning “all men” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)?

 

  1. What is the function of a “mediator” and who meets that requirement (1 Tim. 2:5-6)?

 

  1. What is Paul “ordained’ to and his “will” for men (1 Tim. 2:7-8)?

 

  1. “In like manner” what is his will that women will “adorn” themselves (1 Tim. 2:9-10)?

 

  1. How are women to be in and manifest their “subjection” (1 Tim. 2:11-12)?

 

10.What basis is  given for this subjective position  and how is she to “continue” (1 Tim. 2:13-15)

 

_________________________________________

A Christians’ Voice

802 Adeline Lane

Van Buren, AR 72956-3530

 

 

 

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 1, August 24, 2018: Integrity, Character, and Rebuilding Trust

What is Integrity and Character?

Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).

 

The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).

 

John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:

  • Character is more than talk
  • Talent is a gift but character is a choice
  • Character brings lasting success with people
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

 

How is Character Improved?

Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:

  1. “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.

 

  1. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?

 

  1. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.

 

  1. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”

(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)

 

What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?

If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).

 

What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?

Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:

Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”

1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”

Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?

God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).

 

The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.

 

Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).

 

Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.

They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).

One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).

 

If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.

 

–Randy Sexton

The Old Man in The Mirror

Editors Note: I just found this poem among the files on a flash drive that belonged to my father. The occasion was his 75th birthday in 2003. Looking back with much fondness now, and knowing that he would pass from this life on May 8, 2006, I am filled with great joy. For this poem embodies so much of the spirit of the man that I knew as Dad, and that others knew as “Bill” Sexton.

 

The Old Man in The Mirror

 

Seventy Five years old, surely that’s NOT me

A Short time ago, I was a boy plowing the field, it seems.

Wanting to hurry up and be a big man so others could see

As an adult I could explore the world, perhaps even sail the sea

 

Yes, when I look in the mirror, sometime I see

An old man looking back at me

I wonder how that old frame in my mirror me could be

For In my mind a younger man should be smiling  at me

 

Surely seventy Five years could not have passed so fast

Leaving the old figure in the mirror I observe when I pass

For I’m still young at heart,

From that young age I’m not ready to depart

 

How old is seventy five years anyway

When one is young that age seems so far away

Someone once said he/she is just as old as they feel

So, beloved, In my heart I’m still YOUNG enough to climb a hill

 

Please don’t write me off as being old just yet

The Lord surely knows how much time I have left

But while He allows me to live, love and laugh

I’m young in mind, enjoying youth while He allows it to last

O, yes another year is just about to end

Seems just the other day it only began

Which indicates we need to be busy all the time

Doing things, by looking back, will bring joy to our mind

 

Bill Sexton, December 23, 2003

 

 

 

December 25, 1928 —-2003

Reprints of Works by William C. Sexton

Posts in this category will be articles, sermon outlines, and various other works of William C. Sexton. Brother sexton was born in Cameron, Oklahoma on December 25, 1928 and died in Fort Smith, Arkansas on May 8, 2006.

He was a minister for churches of Christ for 49 years, serving churches in Kearney, MO; Lowell, IN; St. Joseph, MO.; Wichita, KS; Manhattan, KS; Kansas City, MO; Van Buren, AR; as well as many other communities. He was also a prolific writer, being published in brotherhood papers, Guardian of Truth, The Preceptor, Searching the Scriptures and many others. He also edited and published church bulletins for local churches with which he worked. During the latter years of his life he published an electronic bulletin that he called A Christians Voice. He emailed ACV to individual Christians and small congregations with whom he was working at the time of his death.

 

The Disciplines of Life: Discernment, Decision and Duty

This is the fourth article in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude, Discipleship and Dependability & Determination thus far. There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this article, we want to look at the disciplines of discernment, decision, and duty.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). Please consider …

 

Discernment

One of the disciplines of life that we must develop is that of discernment. As we go through life, we are impacted by people, places and events. We might consider those things stimuli (i.e. something that incites to action or exertion or quickens action, feeling, thought, etc.). As Christians, it is important that we exercise discernment in determining the source of those stimuli; are they of God or of Satan?

 

The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that we must be disciplined to discern both good and evil and that this is a work of spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:11-14). One who has not fed upon the Word of God, first with the “milk,” and then progressing to the “strong meat” (KJV) of the Word is NOT able to properly make these right decisions!

Think about the contrast we see between the actions of God vs. actions of Satan upon our lives:

Area of Influence God Satan
Our Mistakes Offers the blood of Jesus that washes whiter than snow (Isa. 1:18; 1Jn. 1:9) Takes pleasure in them, especially if his “wiles” have contributed (Eph. 6:11)
Our Motivations Points us to the pathway of self-denial and selfless service (Mt. 16:24-26 Tempts us with self-interests, physical needs, social position, etc. (Mt. 4:3, 8; 16:23
Our Perspective Exalts the present help of the Lord (Ps. 46:1). Reminds us of the promises, whereby we can hope against hope (Rom. 5:3-5). Emphasizes the past, with its mistakes and heartaches. Magnifies our problems, by showing their hoplessness, impossibility, and pail
Our Guide Walk by faith (2Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:6). Forget the past and reach forward (Phil. 3:13-14). Walk by sight and earthly wisdom (“the counsel of the ungodly” Ps. 1:1).

 

It is so very important, as we attempt to live for Jesus here, that we focus our attention on developing the discipline of discernment. Won’t you be persuaded, dear friend, to do that?

 

 Decision

Secondly, consider the discipline of decision. In the course of a lifetime there are many decisions to be made. Some of these decisions seem very trivial at the time and others may weigh on us because of their importance in setting the future course of our lives.  The Scriptures promise guidance in these decisions to the trusting Christian (Ps. 32:8; 25:9). The “way which you should go” often become more clear after meditation and prayer! Seeking guidance from God before making a decision is never a bad thing!

Of particular interest in considering this discipline is Jeremiah 42:3-10. First consider the context of this passage. “Jeremiah lived during troubled times. He became a prophet during Josiah’s reign (640-609 B.C.). Josiah was the last faithful king in Judah’s history (2Kings 22:1-23:7). His death (2Kings 23:28-30) marked the beginning of the last years of the nation of Judah…. Jeremiah was a biblical theologian…. Whom the Holy Spirit inspired to write fresh treatments of old themes and some ideas that were new when Jeremiah penned them…. the prophet asks people over 100 times to ‘turn around’ or ‘repent.’ ” (ESV Study Bible, pp. 1364-1367).   From this passage we glean three outstanding factors that determine the discipline of decision:

  1. Willingness to ask guidance from God (vv3 and 6, Js. 1:5). They said, “Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…” We have many examples in Scripture of those who were willing to seek guidance from God before embarking on an important activity: “Moses at the Red Sea, Joshua at passage of the Jordan, Ruth in the village of Bethlehem, David in the wilderness, Nehemiah in the court of the king, Jeremiah in the prison, Peter on the housetop, and Paul on board the storm-tossed sailing craft” (Erdman, p. 40)
  2. Willingness to wait for God’s guidance (v7). They had to wait for ten days for the word of the Lord to come to Jeremiah after he asked God on their behalf. There is a song by Stuart Hamblen that speaks to the need to wait for God. The lyrics of that song are as follows:

Teach Me Lord to Wait

Teach me Lord to wait right down on my knees,
Till in Your own good time You answer my pleas;
Teach me not to rely on what others do,
But to wait in prayer for an answer from You.

 

Refrain:

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Teach me Lord, teach me Lorde, to wait

 

Teach me Lord to wait while hearts are a-flame,
Let me humble my price and call on your name.
Keep my faith renewed, my eyes on Thee,
Let me be on this earth what you want me to be

 

  1. Willingness to obey the will of God (v. 10). The word from Jeremiah to the people was, “If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you.” This was not really what they wanted to hear. Secretly they desired to flee into the land of Egypt where they would not see pestilence nor warfare; but they wanted God’s approval of their preference.

 

Sadly, in the following chapter we find the description of their failure to obey, “Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You are not to enter Egypt to reside there’; 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they will put us to death or exile us to Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the [a]commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the Lord to stay in the land of Judah” (Jer. 43:2-4).

 

The question for all of us is, are we willing to obey the voice of the Lord “whether it be good or whether it be evil.”

 

Duty

“Is there delight deeper or more delectable than that of duty diligently done? To know one’s responsibility, to face its circumstances, both favorable and unfavorable, to follow the line of duty without deviation caused by difficulties or distraction, and to fulfill the task as assigned – all this brings great joy. Between finding out our task and fulfilling the same there lies the discipline of duty, often arduous and difficult, even to the point of impossibility”

(Edman, p. 247).

 

We have many Bible examples of those who responded when the will of God called them to duty. The Apostle Paul obeyed when he was called to bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:11). Abraham went when called to go out to a land that he knew nothing about and had not seen with the promise that he would inherit that land (Gen. 12). Joseph responded to God’s call to become the ruler and benefactor of his brethren (Gen. 39). Moses, though feeling unqualified followed God’s direction to lead his enslaved people from the iron furnace of Egypt (Ex. 3). David said “yes” when God called him to leave his duties as a shepherd boy to become king over Israel (1Sam. 16). Cyrus the Persian became God’s hands and feet to order the restoration of Jerusalem (Ezra 1). Mary humbled herself to become the mother of the messiah, to see the performance of those things told her from the Lord (Lk. 1:26ff).

 

Forces that may oppose our performance of Duty include the wrath of men, the waste of years, the waves of despair, and the wickedness of the Adversary.

 

  1. The Wrath of Men

They plotted to take Paul’s life the morning after the Lord called him to witness at Rome (Acts 23:12-13).  When David became King, the Philistines came up to seek him to thwart that from happening (2Sam. 5:17). When Nehemiah sought to rebuild his city, the adversaries were present with intimidation, innuendo, intrigue, and insinuation, to resist his efforts.

 

  1. Waste of Years

“Paul was taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea on his way to Rome, only to languish for an undefined and interminable period. There was no case against him, but he had no friends at court, nor would he stoop to bribery (Acts 24:26); with the result that he remained immobile in the dungeon. His soul entered into delay and darkness, caused by the negligence and selfishness of others” (Erdman, p. 250). Moses was rejected by his people and spent 40 years in the wilderness. David was hunted by an insanely jealous Saul and spent years fleeing to escape his attempts to kill him. Elijah sat by the brook when Ahab ruled the land.

 

  1. Waves of Despair

Paul did not perish in prison. He was compelled to appeal to Caesar. The indifference on the part of others comes to an end. Moses is called by God to go down into Egypt. Elijah is sent to Ahab. Paul at Tarsus is called to Antioch. “When God’s hour strikes, you will go forward into His will. Not perhaps as you had planned but in a way which He sees is best for you.” (Erdman, p. 251). The Lord often takes the storm out of the life of His children before He takes them out of the storm.

 

  1. The Wickedness of the Adversary

And then sometimes when all of the other forces have failed to hinder the performance of duty, the adversary makes a direct attack. Sometime that may come by sickness (Lk. 13:16), other times by self-pity (Mt. 16:21-25) or by self-sufficiency (1Tim. 3:6).

 

“The Discipline of Duty is not easy nor light, its performance is painful and perilous, but its culmination is delight” (Erdman. P. 253)

 

Conclusion:

Discernment, Decision, and Duty are disciplines worthy of our pursuit! Do you possess them? If not won’t you consider carefully what we have said and determine to grow by adding them to your character?

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Erdman, pp. 39–43, 167–171, 247-253)