Thought for Today – Comfort in Distress

Thought for Today

Comfort in Distress

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

Trouble and distress is 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.

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 fragility also knows how to keep His own within the everlasting arms.

“O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

Who holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

Thou hast brought us into the net; thou hast laid affliction upon our loins.

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 a place of abundance!

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 14 – CORRECTION AND GROWTH –

PSALM 23

PART FOURTEEN

CORRECTION AND GROWTH

“Thy Rod…comforts* me”
PSALM 23:4

Without correction and accountability personal growth and fruitfulness becomes stagnated and stunted. Men who refuse correction cease to grow and cease to live. Jesus said “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. We see this truth so aptly revealed in the world around us. Everything concerning life needs to be channelled in order to have direction and purpose. A river without banks is a flood, electricity without a path and a purpose we call “static” and a believer in God who has no personal vision or “mark” (Philippians 3:14) is one who will be without discipline or purpose. A good landscaper prunes his garden that it may grow and become all that he has purposed and envisioned it to be when he planted it. Jesus said that His father was the Vinedresser and they that are of this Vine (Jesus) are to bear fruit that the Father may be glorified. Therefore Fruit is anything that pleases and glorifies the Father.

It is in us receiving of His correction that we grow in fruitfulness and the inherent ability to bring forth expressions of the Son to glorify the Father. Let us hear the admonition from God’s Word; “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11 – 12) The proof of God’s Love and His ongoing investment into our lives is REVEALED IN HIS ROD. We read In the Old and New Testament of the evident Hand of God actively expressing His Love and correction in the lives of people; some were EXERCISED by it and others refused it with eternal consequences. Men who refuse correction choose a life that eventually comes to ruin. God’s Word has summed up this truth in one powerful verse…

“He who keeps instruction (Hebrew: correction) is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray”
PROVERBS 10:17

Does this not convey to us the reason behind the apostasy in our land today? Is there not a reason that the LOVE OF MANY has grown cold and indifferent? People are content to go through the motions of religion while failing to realize that we are here to BEAR FRUIT unto HIM who has called us out of darkness into HIS LIGHT that we might ever live to GLORIFY HIM.

God’s Word to HIS PEOPLE today is one of grave importance; one that reveals and lays bare the reason that we are in such disarray, impotence and apathy….

“I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets,
daily rising up early and sending them.
Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck…
This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God
NOR RECEIVE CORRECTION.
Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”
JEREMIAH 7:25 – 28

It is a Day for us to turn, to receive correction and to be EXERCISED in it that we may come forth as Gold tried in the Fire; purified and freed from our own agendas to DO THE WILL OF HIM that there may be Glory and Honour in His House.

King David knew well the power of change and repentance found in the ministration of truth from others in His day and the fruit that comes from the receiving of it.

“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me: It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it”
PSALM 141:5

Ω

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession,
absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 7 – PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

PSALM 23

PART SEVEN

THE PATHS
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake…”
PSALM 23:2

A path is not a destination. It is a way by which we travel to a specific destination. The “paths of righteousness” indicate a journey by which we travel to a desired end; a journey into HIM who is LIFE. The concept of a journey, a life of growth and development, a goal that we are seeking to attain (Philippians 3:7 – 15), has been lost in the teaching of our day. Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted to WALK in righteousness, LIVE in righteousness and GROW in righteousness. Jesus tells us to “SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God AND HIS Righteousness”. In other words, this should be the primary focus and desire of our hearts. We must see here that we are not just wandering in a religious wilderness filled with doctrines and concepts of men in our search for righteousness. We are plainly told that HE LEADS US in the paths of this righteousness! To grow and live in the paths of righteousness is the RESULT of following HIM! It is a life of discovery, a life of HIS provisions, and a life filled with the wonder of HIM who is THE LIFE! Growth and development are the revelations of this life. A life that is not growing and changing is a life that has become stagnant in its heart. It may breathe, may say all the right words but in the very essence of its core it has “settled” in its quest for more of HIM. This journey is one that causes us to become pilgrims concerning the things of this world. It causes us to ever be attentive to HIS VOICE and HIS direction. It is the governing principle by which we conduct ourselves in this world. It also causes us to be aware that we are a living part of all those who have gone on before us; that in truth we are the children of the promise, the true offspring of Abraham who are looking and seeking for a City “whose builder and maker is GOD”.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off £were assured of them,
embraced them and confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland”
HEBREWS 11:13 – 14

As we read the promises of God in the New Testament we must realize that there are tremendous promises yet unfulfilled. Such being the case we are exhorted over and over to seek, pursue and “press toward the mark” for the attaining of these things. Should not that cry be found within our own hearts? The WAY of God in Christ is a way of life and wonder. It is a WAY filled with change because it is a relationship with the INFINITE GOD of whom there is neither beginning nor end. It is an eternal call, for no real and vital relationship ever ceases to grow and develop.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth MORE AND MORE unto the perfect day”
PROVERBS 4:18

This path is filled with an ever growing light. This light beckons us on to greater things in HIM and a desire to PARTICIPATE in the thing HE is doing. To touch the CRY of HIS HEART for the life of another, to be co-labourers with HIM in the development of life (HIS LIFE) in our brothers and sisters is a joy that is ours in Christ. How can we not “run with endurance” for the Joy of knowing and walking with HIM? “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (ROMANS 1:16) thus describing a faith that is growing from one stage to another.

A people of the Way are ever on the move, they are growing and they are discovering the bonds of relationship; the worth of knowing others who are also on this journey. The fruit of that fellowship is deep, powerful and filled with the pulsating life of the Son who is the author, sustainer and end of this journey!

Ω

“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon,
but only to hold a man’s foot long enough
to enable him to put the other somewhat higher”
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895)

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 PART 2 – I Shall Not Want –

PSALM 23

PART TWO

“I SHALL NOT WANT…”
PSALM 23:1

“Want” is not, for most of us, a concept with which we are familiar. We live in a land blessed with abundance. While in other parts of the world there is great want and need for the necessities of life, we here see a great want for the EXCESSES of life. When we truly believe that the Lord is our Shepherd and that HE provides our needs we should be free from the lust of things externally and internally. We should be finding rest in HIS PROVISIONS and HIS GREAT PROVIDENCES. So many of us work day and night to pay for the excesses; things that are far from being necessities. “We have to make a living” is our excuse when in reality we have sold ourselves into a life of servitude for the “things” that this world has to offer. We are not talking here of some religious vow of poverty; we are speaking of a contentment in the LORD our Shepherd. We are talking of a freedom from the passion for “things” that would entice and burden us with a life of debt to this world. Our lifestyle should not enslave us but rather free us to serve our God.

I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that is free to follow and serve our Great Shepherd. I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that is free from the lusts, passions and entanglements of this world. I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that has found peace in knowing that HE is our provider; that HE really is all that we need. It is a freedom from the pressure of this world to have and hold more. For in truth those things can have a hold on us. WE ARE ALWAYS THE SERVANT OF THAT WHICH OUR HEART DESIRES. That is why Jesus says….

“Take heed and beware of covetousness,
for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”
LUKE 12:15

Covetousness is a condition of the heart. It steals the affections of our heart with great subtlety, slowly causing our focus to change; the reason that we do something is altered from that which is good and necessary to that which satisfies a lust or a desire. A contented life in this world is the result of seeking, desiring and living within the provision and way of the Lord our Shepherd. As we, in the spirit of thankfulness and praise, make our requests known unto HIM we begin to discover the WAY of HIS PEACE in our lives. It is a battle to keep our eyes focused on the ONE who is OUR PROVISION and our God. We are reminded in John’s Gospel…

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passéth away, and the lust thereof:
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”
I JOHN 2:15

I SHALL NOT WANT is the fruit of a life that is finding its contentment in the LIFE and PROVISION of THE LORD OUR SHEPHERD. May we daily seek this life of simplicity and rest. To abide in the Love OF the Father is to be free from the love of the World. This freedom is found as we displace one love with a GREATER LOVE. Religion is always seeking to do things that appear spiritual and we often hear the scripture misquoted “…I must decrease, He must increase…” The truth is “HE MUST INCREASE, I must decrease…”

“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
I SHALL NOT WANT”

Brian Troxel