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lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Spiritual Problems



Dealing with Spiritual Problems

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. (2 Timothy 1:3–8)

THIS PASSAGE CONTAINS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE of a man who, if he was not already in the rut, was in danger of getting into it. The old soldier, Paul, was about to retire; that is, the Lord was about to take him home. Before he went he wrote a letter to his young coworker, much younger than he, but a noble young man. Timothy was full of faith, having been reared in a family where the faith of God was strong. He had proven himself a hundred ways in working with the great man Paul.
But even Timothy, though very busy and even because he was so busy, was in danger of settling into a rut. Otherwise Paul would not have said, “Fan the flame.” In the King James this is translated “stir up the gift of God.”
In Scripture God never uses superfluous words. He never says to a person who is wide awake, “Wake up!” He never says to a person who is lying down, “Lie down!” He never says to someone standing, “Get up!” And He never says to a person who is already stirred up, “Stir up!” God never wastes His words, and He never makes any little speeches like a person called upon at the laying of a cornerstone. Nor was Paul wasting words or giving a little talk that would be good just about anywhere. “Stir up the gift of God that is in thee”(KJV). Timothy needed this, or it would not have been written.
The evidence is that Timothy, even though a hard-working and faithful man, was in danger of getting into a rut. Paul said, in effect, “Don’t be ashamed of the cross.”
It is possible to be beaten until you are numb. You can smile and praise the Lord and say, “Jesus, I my cross have taken,” for a while. But then you are slowly beaten until you are numb, and you get into a sort of a rut where you cannot fight back.
Timothy had been with Paul a long time, and Paul had been in so much trouble so much of the time. Timothy was tagging along behind in the same trouble, and Paul had noticed a little temptation to be ashamed of the cross. Essentially, Paul was saying, “Don’t be ashamed of the cross. Don’t shrink from the affliction of the gospel. God has not given us the spirit of fear.” Then in Second Timothy 2:3 Paul said, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” It is as though he might have detected in the young man a little temptation to recoil a bit from the hard life he was called into.
Paul knew that Timothy was basically a sound man. He knew Timothy had been reared in a Christian home. He mentioned Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. The grandmother and mother were both Christians, and good ones. Young Timothy had learned and become a Christian early in life. Paul knew that he was basically sound. But Paul was afraid that the pressure of things and the boredom of always being in the minority might put Timothy in danger of leveling off.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/5 11:05Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Re: Spiritual Problems



A personal revival
There is such a thing as a renaissance, a personal revival. The best illustration is the coming of the springtime on the farm. The snow will lay all winter long, and in some places you don’t see the ground until springtime. How utterly dead everything looks, but you know that life is still there. The trees are stark, but there is life in them. The roots in the ground are all quiet, but there is life down there. Just below the frost line are the worms, the bugs, the mice, the moles and the chipmunks. They are all there, and there is life down there. They are all waiting for something, listening for Mother Nature to say, “Stir up the gift of God that is in thee.”
Then comes the spring; the snow goes, and the blotches and patches begin to appear. The bobwhites begin to whistle their happy but monotonous song on the sunny side of the hill. The cattle begin to kick up their heels and run about the fields. That is spring. Pretty soon all the snow is gone, calves are born and lambs are about, and we start all over. Thank God, it is all new.
There is such a thing in the Christian life as going under for a winter. In other words, something happens to you, little by little, until you get snowed under and frozen over. There is life down there, covered up by the frost and ice. It may be hidden; it is there somewhere.
It is possible for us to go through spiritual experiences that can rouse us, the spiritual equivalent of a springtime in the meadow. I have seen it happen, and I would like to see it happen today.
The winter meadow illustration, as all illustrations, breaks down. The fields cannot be talked to. You have never heard of a farmer about February standing on a stump lecturing his fields. It is not done that way for this reason: these creatures have no moral perception and no wills of their own. They are dependent upon the position of the sun. They cannot do anything about their condition.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/5 16:11Profile
lwpray
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Sweden

 Re: Spiritual Problems



We have to enter in
But we can do something about ours. We can have the spiritual equivalent of springtime in the meadow, but we have to enter in. The tree waits it out, and even the animals have to wait it out. But you and I, being made in the image of God and having wills of our own, can do something about it. We can appeal directly to our hearts. We do not need to lie like a field covered over with snow. We can stir ourselves up. We can run to meet the sun. We can create our own crisis, because the job is not for meadow and grass, but for our own hearts. These other things only illustrate spiritual springtime. We can stir ourselves up. We can bring out the sun, and we can bring on the springtime.
How do we get this to happen? First it must come to the individual. I have no faith in anything that happens to a church that does not happen to the individual. If it does not affect the individual, numbers of individuals, if it is only a sort of social overtone that affects everybody momentarily, I have no faith in it at all.
David set the pattern for us. David confessed and repented. C.H. Spurgeon preached on repentance week after week, and somebody came to him and said, “When are you going to quit preaching on repentance, pastor?” Spurgeon replied, “When you repent.” When we talk about confession and repentance, we keep right on talking about it until either it has had its effect or we know it will have none. To paraphrase the words of the Lord in such a situation, “Get the dust off your feet and hunt up someplace where they will listen.” I have better hopes for you. I believe you will hear.
Charles Finney was a well-known preacher of the nineteenth century. Not all of us agree with everything that he taught, but we do believe that he was one of God’s great men, perhaps one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived since the Apostle Paul. Finney said there were times or periods occasionally when he would get into a rut, and there would be a definite dimming of the power in his life. When that would happen, Finney said, “I took time off and waited on God in fasting and prayer until I was restored.” That is the old-fashioned way of doing it, and that seems to be the way David did it. The Psalms were wet with David’s salty tears as he confessed his sins to God, repented, took forgiveness and went his happy way.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/6 3:28Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
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 Re: Spiritual Problems



The pad and pencil method
Try what I call the pad and pencil method. This method is very simple and consists of getting on your knees with your Bible, a pad of paper and a pencil. Read the Bible and then write down what is wrong with you. The only way to remain spiritual is to keep after yourself. The pad and pencil method is good. Read, for example, the Sermon on the Mount. When the Holy Spirit says, “You are that person,” write it down. Read on. When the Holy Spirit says you are wrong here or there, write it down. Then set your Bible aside and go over your list before God in confession with the promise that you will never be caught doing those things again. Commune with your own heart, be still and question yourself like a doctor with your open Bible before you.
You will find that this will bring sunshine to your life, and you will have springtime in your heart. When you get before God realizing that there has been a bit of snow on the ground and that the happy song of the birds is not heard in the land and that the sweet smell of the flowers is not within you, begin to question yourself before God with the open Bible. The symptoms you already know, but try to get at the causes. If you are evasive with God, then there will be no help. If you are evasive with yourself, if you rationalize your weaknesses, you will get no help.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/6 12:34Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Re: Spiritual Problems



Ask some questions
Here are some questions I recommend you ask yourself. In quiet silence ask, “Am I always truthful and honest? I claim to be a Christian, and I believe that the root of the matter is in me and the seed of God is in my heart. I believe I am the Lord’s child, but I am not satisfied with the frozen-over rut. Lord, help me to be honest while I answer. Am I always truthful on the telephone? Am I always honest with my creditors, with my employers, with my employees and in all social contracts and contacts?”
Somebody may say, “What’s the difference?” Dishonesty and shading of the truth are sins that grieve the Holy Spirit and bring on the winter. The winter of your discontent may be upon you, and like the life in a leafless tree, your life is buried within. You may have grieved the Holy Spirit by untruthfulness. One of the first things Christians have to do is become perfectly honest with God and perfectly truthful in everything they say.
Another question to put to yourself is, “Do I have any habits I am ashamed to let anybody know I have? Have I any personal habits that I am ashamed of? Do I hide something when the pastor is coming? If everything were known in the church about how I lived, would I go back to church?” You can dodge this, twist it around and answer evasively, but the snow will lie on your heart. If you answer God honestly and go to work to get rid of it and clean it up, springtime will come for you.
Then ask yourself, “Is my speech clean?” One of the most shocking things in the church is the dirty-mouthed Christian who always walks on the borderline. There is no place for borderline stories that embarrass some people, and there is nothing about sex or the human body that is funny if your mind is clean.
There was once a gathering of officers, and George Washington was present in the room. One of the young officers began to think about a dirty story that he wanted to tell, and he got a smirk on his face. He looked around and said, “I’m thinking of a story. I guess there are no ladies present.” Washington straightened up and said, “No, young man, but there are gentlemen.” The young officer shut his mouth and kept the dirty story inside his dirty head and heart.
Anything you could not tell with Jesus present, do not tell. Anything you could not laugh at were Jesus present, do not laugh at.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/6 14:33Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
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 Re: Spiritual Problems



Ask yourself another question. “Am I using my money wisely? Am I using my money to bless people? Am I using my money to help find the lost sheep? Am I using my money to help feed the hungry children?”
Here is yet another question: “Do I gossip about people? Have I been a troublemaker?” Some people are disease carriers who are not sick themselves. They carry some disease, but they are not ill—just carriers. There are some Christians who are carriers. They can say “amen” with the best and can sing “Nearer My God to Thee” with the loudest, but they are not around very long until suspicions begin to enter the minds of Christians. They are troublemakers and trouble carriers.
Then, “Have I judged other Christians?” Your present frozen condition may be a judgment of God, for as you judge others so you will be judged by God. Your present frozen condition may be that you have judged somebody else to be frozen, and the Lord allowed the thing to turn around on you.
“Am I heavenly minded or earthly minded? Where do my thoughts tend to stray when they are free to stray where they will? What do I brood over? Are my thoughts pure and charitable?” If you can find out what you brood over, you will know what kind of a Christian you are and what kind of a heart you have. We always brood over things that we love, or that we hate if we are holding a grudge against somebody.
“Am I faithful in prayer?” Ask yourself that. “Well, I’m busy,” you say. Yes, you are busy. So was the Lord Jesus. So was Martin Luther. Luther said, “In the morning I have so much work to do that I am going to have to pray longer today.” Are you faithful in prayer, and do you meditate on the Word? How much of Scripture have you read lately? Have you read it with meditation and tenderness?
These are a few questions. You can answer them evasively and the snow lies there. Or you can answer them honestly and see the springtime come to your heart.
Put yourself in the hands of the One who loves you infinitely. If you have failed Him, you will have to admit that there is a rut or snow on the meadow. Tell Him so—don’t hide it. He will not turn His back in anger and say, “You disappointed me and betrayed me.” There is a balm in Gilead, plenty of it. The balm and healing in the blood of the Lamb will get you out of the rut.

END



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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/7 4:37Profile
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 Tozer

Out of the vault ...


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Mike Balog

 2006/9/26 16:11Profile





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