Believing Unto Righteousness

Thought for Today

Believing Unto Righteousness

“We admit no faith to be justifying, which is not itself and in its own nature a spiritually vital principle of obedience and good works”
– John Owen

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
Romans 10:10

If the heart truly believes in Christ it will always be UNTO righteousness. A life unchanged is a life untouched by the power of Christ. Any belief which does not bring a heart unto righteousness is religious, cold and dead.

“For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive”
1 Corinthians 15:22

It is not what a person believes but in whom they believe.

Brian Troxel

Doing the Truth

Doing Truth

“A teaching is what one knows;
truth is what one does.”

(While in prayer the other day, this phrase came to me; an admonition to remind me of the true Christian life. The subtly of knowing when it is not coupled with doing can become a deception. It is in the daily-ness of living that the reality of His life in us is truly known and shown.)

“But he that doeth truth cometh to the light…”
John 3:21

Truth is the Life of Christ moving within the human heart. Truth is a Person and a power; the power of God. Truth cannot leave a life in bondage or apathy. Its relentless activity within the redeemed soul is ever moving and empowering, lifting us out of bondage and corruption.

“And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free”
John 8:32

Many may ascribe to the teachings of Christ, but those in whom His light and truth penetrate become a new creation fashioned into His likeness and nature. This change and transformation can only be known through the wonder of relationship; a continuing in His Word and a persistent seeking of Him to bring true freedom within.

“If ye continue in my word,
then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free”
John 8:31-32

Tenacity of spirit is a defining signature of the true disciple. Freedom is the fruit of discipleship; the joy of knowing and walking with Him. The creative power of God is released to become servants of righteousness in those who discover this new freedom in Christ.

Ω

“Being then made free from sin,
ye became the servants of righteousness”
Romans 6:18

Brian Troxel

 

Thought for Today

Thought for Today

“He is in the way of life
that keepeth instruction
Proverbs 10:17

A tender heart is open to the instruction of the Lord. It is attentive to His whispers. It is as we come to know His voice and His way that we are able to grow and develop in our life in God. Our teach-ability is evidence that we are in “the way of life”.

Paul was ever attentive to the instruction of the Lord. His life was one of continual learning. His was a life-long quest to know His God.

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need”
Philippians 4:12

This learning was experiential to the point where he could glorify God in every situation in which he found himself. While it is easy to gain knowledge, only the experiential knowing of Him will bring changes, eternal changes, into our lives.

It is in keeping His instruction whereby we can be confident that we are in the Way of Life. It is the verity of our life in Him.

Brian Troxel

Consolation in Distress

Trust in the Storm

“If I walk in the midst of distress
Thou revives me…”
Psalm 138:7

Trouble and distress are often the precursor to glory. Our heavenly Father’s purpose is to bring “many sons to glory”. He who “spared not His Son” on our behalf will not spare His rod and His staff from the lives of those who have purposed to know Him. In our distresses we become focused and aware of the eternal issue; to know and honor God. It is in the press where the grapes are squeezed, the spices are crushed and the pride of man is broken. These are the times that the vision of a true soul sees with the most clarity and the vanity of life is exposed. The fine wine is brought to maturity, the bouquet is sweetened and the flavor is deepened and refined as the dregs of self are removed. That which was once bitter is made sweet by the gracious work of God. In His economy the best wine is always brought out at the last to glorify the wonder of the work of the Son. The waters in the earthen pot have been transformed into the wine of the Spirit for others to drink and be refreshed.

“For I will restore health unto thee,
and I will heal thee of thy wounds…”
Jeremiah 30:17

The quickening and reviving work of God is ever in the midst of the trial. In our holding fast to Him the storm inevitably gives way to the calm. That which has been torn will be restored; that which has been driven by the wind will find the harbor of His peace and security. Grey and angry skies will clear and the deep blue face of heaven will be more serene than ever before.

Do not fear the storms for He who knows our frame and our limitations also knows how to keep His own within the everlasting arms.

Praise our God, you peoples! Make the sound of his praise heard, who preserves our life among the living, and doesn’t allow our feet to be moved. For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined. You brought us into prison. You laid a burden on our backs. You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us to the place of abundance
Psalm 66:8-12

God’s end is to bring His own to the place of abundance!

Brian Troxel
(2018)

Thought for Today

Thought for Today

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul”
Psalm 19:7

The Word of God shining forth in its perfection is the very breath of heaven to every soul bound in the prison of self. It is filled with power; a power that converts and transforms the heart of man with the liberty and freedom of Christ. For those who hear His voice and call there is an unmistakable change fashioned within. The chaos and emptiness of human existence are dissolved by this New LIFE.

Conversion is the evidence of a life which has embraced this Living Word. Faith is the evidence of the Word’s power; it moves and motivates the people of God. It is bursting with vitality and a quest for more of Him from whom it originated. This faith cannot be defined by the words of men nor captured by a statement. It is the very breath of God breathed into fallen souls to bring forth a whole new creation.

By faith …………Abraham went out
By faith ……….. Sarah received strength
By faith ……….. Noah was moved with fear
By faith ……….. Moses forsook Egypt
By faith …………The walls of Jericho fell down

Faith is the mover of men and women by the power of God. It is demonstrative, active and living.

“Then faith is of hearing,
and hearing through the Word of God”
Romans 10:17

Σ

“If any man thirst,
let him come unto me, and drink”
John 7:37

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today

The Light of God

“For God will bring every work into judgment,
with every hidden thing, whether it is good,
or whether it is evil.”
Ecclesiastes 12:14

The Light of God penetrates all things. His life is His Light. The Words He speaks, the Works He works and the Nature of all that He is, is Light and Life.

“In him was life,
and the life was the light of men”
John 1:4

The Life of God within the heart of an individual is one of His Light shining to uncover, pierce and transform. It is the nature of Light to illuminate and expose; it cannot be otherwise. Religion attempts to cover, conceal and overlook our sins and blemishes; God illuminates our wrongness with the intent of changing and transforming our lives into pure and simple expressions of the One who is Truth.

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons”
Genesis 3:7

Man’s initial response to the “voice of the Lord walking” (Genesis 3:8) in their midst was to hide and cover their nakedness. It was a spontaneous reaction to the Light of God. The fig leaves are a picture of man’s futility; a temporary solution to an eternal issue. In the fall Adam and Eve stepped out of eternity into the realm of time; in that moment the need to be covered was paramount and pressing. It was their consciousness of “now” that caused them to turn to a temporary solution. In the urgency of the moment their nakedness had to be covered; man’s response to the Light of God. The journey into truth begins with truth. In our acknowledgment of who we are, we are afforded the provisions of all that He is. “Come unto Me” is an invitation for change and rest. The stress and labor of “keeping up appearances” is burdensome and the accompanying fear of exposure is a torment to the soul.

Peace and rest are the result of being right with God.

“Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest”
Matthew 11:28

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today

Thought for Today

“It is said that Gainsborough, the artist, longed also to be a musician. He bought musical instruments of many kinds and tried to play them. He once heard a great violinist bringing ravishing music from his instrument. Gainsborough was charmed and thrown into transports of admiration. He bought the violin on which the master played so marvelously. He thought that if he had the wonderful instrument that he could play too. But he soon learned that the music was not in the violin, but was in the master who played it“.  Quote from Mrs. Charles Cowman

So it is with us; we are but poor instruments.  Only as we surrender ourselves to the master do we become effective in touching the life of others. In His hands we can bring His light to a lost world and a living hope to those who sit in darkness. In His hands the five loaves and two fishes fed the multitude, a little oil delivered a poor widow’s two sons from slavery and the song of the Lord at midnight shook a prison and set the captives free. May we discover this powerful truth; it is not who we are, it is who we are in the Master’s hands.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus
Acts 4:13

Brian Troxel

The Lesson of the Fig Tree – Part Two

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Part Two

“Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away”
Matthew 21:18-19

The lesson of the fig tree is one of great value to those who seek truth. Its message is for our growth and development.

Jesus came to the fig tree looking for figs. He came looking for fruit consistent with its capability. So it is with us. The righteousness of God prevents Him from an expectation that is beyond the ability of the tree to produce. The God who measures the talents to every child of His according to their ability, is the same God who holds each of us accountable to Him for that gift. This truth brings our accountability into perspective. It is also meant to be instructive to us as parents and ministers of God that we walk in His wisdom regarding the lives of our own children and of every believer. We are not to expect Paul to minister as Peter, nor Jude to speak as Apollos. Such expectations are the result of religious doctrines and confines. The Life of Christ within regards the individual gifts and capacities of others and looks for the corresponding fruit. When the fruit of an individual is consistent with the call and the gifts of God given, there should be a collective rejoicing unto the Giver of all good things. When the fruit of a life is missing or lacking the vitality of its call and capability, there is great need for the ministration of exhortation and admonition. Ministers who fail in this vital aspect of ministry will find themselves accountable to the Chief Shepherd of our souls.

Stewards and Shepherds

We are stewards of the grace of God and as such we are to shepherd His flock with a desire to see Him glorified in each and every child of His. It requires a pure heart to walk in such things knowing full well our own accountability unto Him. The fear of the Lord is the ground upon which His true ministers walk and function. John the Apostle declared that he had no greater joy than to “see his children walking in truth”; the truth of what has been given to them. The one who has been given prophetic insight, that is the thing to which God will hold them accountable (1-see below). The one who teaches must teach the truth of God to the end that every life will grow in the holiness and wisdom of God. (2-see below). Those who exhort must do so with purity and simplicity (3-see below) As to the Apostolic, there is to be a faithfulness to call God’s people to the obedience of faith (4-see below). The list is as endless as the diversity of God’s creation.

(1) “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith” (Romans 12:6)
(2) “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28)
(3) “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3)
(4) “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Romans 1:5)

In the book of Romans, Paul exhorts God’s people to receive all of these diversities as the gifts and the wisdom of God. Those who refuse these expressions deny God’s wisdom and subject themselves to His judgment. Division is the result of man’s wisdom and pride.

“Only by pride cometh contention…”
Proverbs 13:10

The Lesson of the fig tree is that He comes to each of us looking for corresponding fruit. His expectation is consistent with His grace given. In the Parable of the Talents, the man with one talent was judged severely for his faithlessness to the gift given (Matthew 15:30). In the Parable of the Vine, the branch which bore no fruit was “cut off” (John 15:2,6). The lesson of the Fig Tree was meant for our admonition and learning to that same end.

The response of Jesus to the two individuals who were faithful to their respective talents was the same! Different talents yet the same reward for their faithfulness to God’s measure.

“His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
Matthew 25:21,23

The purpose of these diverse ministrations is:

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work…”
Colossians 1:10

Brian Troxel

Spurgeon and the Cholera Epidemic 1854

Spurgeon and the Cholera Epidemic of 1854

It is worth noting that the global pandemic in which we find ourselves is  not comparable to epidemics of former times.  There were not the communications systems and infrastructure in place back then yet, during those times, Christians continued to reveal the love of God through their compassion and good works. There are a lot of considerations today with regard to quarantines and other precautions and there is a love and a wisdom in which we are called to walk. May our lives be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit in this time. All things are for our learning and growth.  There is a fine line between presumption and faith; may we walk circumspectly.  Love to you all.
BT

The following is an article I found interesting:

SPURGEON’S WALK AN EXAMPLE TO US

“As a young village preacher, Charles Spurgeon admired the Puritan ministers who stayed behind to care for the sick and dying during the Great Plague of London in 1665.[1] Now in the fall of 1854, the newly called pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London found himself pastoring his congregation amid a major cholera outbreak in the Broad Street neighborhood just across the river.

How did Spurgeon respond?

1) Prioritize local ministry

During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying. I felt that it was my duty to be on the spot in such a time of disease and death and sorrow.[2]

Spurgeon’s popularity had grown throughout the Fenland villages outside of Cambridge during his pastorate at Waterbeach. Even after arriving in London, he continued to be invited to preach in those villages during the week. But during the outbreak, Spurgeon recognized his responsibility to be present with those who were sick and dying. This was not a time to be an itinerant preacher. This was a time to focus on caring for his church and the community in which he lived. He would not outsource this task to his deacons or other church leaders but remained in London in order to fulfill his duty.

2) Adjust as needed, but continue meeting if possible

The Broad Street Cholera Outbreak of 1854 occurred in August and September of that year, and its effects would continue to be felt in the weeks and months following. The neighborhood where Spurgeon’s church met was not quarantined, so they were able to continue meeting throughout those months. Interestingly, no record of the sermons Spurgeon preached during those days remain.[3] Perhaps the outbreak forced the congregation to adjust some of their previous practices, including the transcription of sermons. Additionally, Spurgeon was likely too busy in those days to edit sermons for publication.

However, we know that the congregation continued meeting during those days because the church’s minute books contain records of congregational meetings carried on throughout the fall of 1854. In those books, amid all the pastoral challenges of the outbreak, Spurgeon and his deacons continued to receive new members, pursue inactive members, observe the Lord’s Supper, and practice all the other normal activities of a church. Not only that, but in retrospect, it was particularly during this time, when news of death raged all around the city, that Spurgeon found Londoners most receptive to the gospel.

If there ever be a time when the mind is sensitive, it is when death is abroad. I recollect, when first I came to London, how anxiously people listened to the gospel, for the cholera was raging terribly. There was little scoffing then.[4]

In other words, not only did Spurgeon gather his church amid the outbreak, but he saw in these gatherings a powerful opportunity for the gospel and proclaimed the gospel boldly.

Pastors need to exercise wisdom when it comes to gathering as a church, especially when the health and lives of people are at stake. Certainly, adjustments will need to be made and priority will have to be given to only the most important aspects of our gatherings. But when such gatherings are possible, pastors should realize that they can be tremendous opportunities for preaching the gospel to those who are desperately looking for hope.

3) Visit the sick

As the pastor, Spurgeon not only continued to gather his church, but he also made himself available throughout the week, working tirelessly to visit the sick and grief-stricken.

In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave.[5]

In these visits, Spurgeon prayed with the sick and grieving, and pointed them to the hope of the gospel. But more than just bringing gospel content, his presence communicated something of God’s comfort to his people. Though these visits were often fearful and full of grief, there were also glorious occasions of faith and joy.

I went home, and was soon called away again; that time, to see a young woman. She also was in the last extremity, but it was a fair, fair sight. She was singing, — though she knew she was dying, — and talking to those round about her, telling her brothers and sisters to follow her to Heaven, bidding goodbye to her father, and all the while smiling as if it had been her marriage day. She was happy and blessed.[6]

4) Be open to new evangelistic opportunities

Spurgeon did not limit himself merely to visiting members of his congregation but was willing to visit “persons of all ranks and religions.”

All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and. saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face! When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine.[7]

On one occasion, at three in the morning, Spurgeon was summoned to visit a dying man. Surprisingly, this was not a Christian, but someone who had opposed him:

That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips.[8]

Spurgeon went right away, but by the time he arrived, there was little he could do.

I stood by his side, and spoke to him, but he gave me no answer. I spoke again; but the only consciousness he had was a foreboding of terror, mingled with the stupor of approaching death. Soon, even that was gone, for sense had fled, and I stood there, a few minutes, sighing with the poor woman who had watched over him, and altogether hopeless about his soul.[9]

Not every evangelistic opportunity will result in dramatic conversions. But during times of disease, surprising opportunities may arise. Therefore, take advantage of any opportunities you might have to preach the gospel to those who are suffering.

5) Entrust your life to God

As Spurgeon gave himself to this pastoral work, he soon found himself physically and mentally exhausted. Not only that, but he began to fear for his own safety. Yet, amid his fears, he learned to entrust himself to God and to His faithfulness.

At first, I gave myself up with youthful ardor to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions; but, soon, I became weary in body, and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.

I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Great Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore, in a good bold handwriting, these words: —

“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge; and in the remembrance of its marvelous power, I adore the Lord my God.[10]

Here, Spurgeon does not promise that no Christian will ever die of sickness. Rather, the Christian “[needs] not dread [sickness], for he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by death.”[11]

Once again, pastors must exercise wisdom and take appropriate precautions as they visit those who are dying. At the same time, our security cannot be in those precautions, but it must be in God. As we entrust our lives to God and faithfully carry out our responsibilities, we have an opportunity to demonstrate what hope and peace look like in the midst of death.

Conclusion

In many ways, Spurgeon’s example during the cholera outbreak of 1854 follows the pattern of normal pastoral ministry on every occasion. Pastors are to be present with their people, lead in the gatherings of the church, care for those who are suffering, be faithful in evangelism, and continue trusting in God through it all. The main difference is that during an outbreak, there is a heightened reality of suffering and death. Therefore, the work becomes more intense and urgent, and the opportunities for the gospel multiply. As pastors and church leaders consider their response to the coronavirus in our present day, there is much to figure out practically and logistically. But the core of our ministry remains: Preach the gospel.

Speaking in 1866, amid another cholera outbreak, Spurgeon gave this charge to pastors and all Christians:

And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls. You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good. You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes. Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that —

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

Tell them that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. Tell them that He is able to save even at the eleventh hour, and to say to the dying thief, “today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”[12]

Copied from:
https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/blog-entries/spurgeon-and-the-cholera-outbreak-of-1854

A True Heart

The True Heart

“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
try my reins and my heart”
Psalm 26:2

A true heart does not seek to cover sin; it seeks the Lord to expose every wrong and crooked way. Exposure is the path to purity and the hope of salvation and freedom. The Light of Christ penetrates the heart and His eyes burn through the very soul of man. The burning consumes pride, self-seeking and the desire for pre-eminence. It removes the religious fig leaves of those who cloak themselves in garments of piety and false humility.

May our God, as a consuming fire, burn within our hearts until there be no shadows or pretense. Let there be no hidden chambers for sin to hide. He alone can heal the broken and restore righteousness and holiness. He beckons us to the fellowship of the fire; the fellowship of His Light.

The prison of pretense is deep, dark and rooted in sin and hypocrisy. The foundation of this prison is built one lie at a time. Mercy was never meant by God to excuse sin; its purpose is to cause men to come to the Light, to free them from the misery of sin. Mercy’s true triumph is in men and women finding the courage to face the light and allowing it to shine into the hidden areas of their hearts, set free by the “spirit of burning”.

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:
and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil”
Proverbs 16:6

Purity of hearts brings us freedom and the liberty to express Him through the vessel of our redeemed self. As the gem, polished and cut, shines with the luster of its own being, so Christ has called each of us to be a distinct expression of His handiwork. Come to Him, present yourself to the light and fire of all that He is that you may know true liberty.

“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”
2 Corinthians 3:17

An individual’s liberty will be in proportion to their surrender to the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Brian Troxel