Emulating Enoch

Thur., Jan. 20/22

Yesterday I wrote about Enoch and Elijah as ordinary men. Ordinary people with ordinary days peppered with a number of extraordinary episodes. We tend to define such persons by their extraordinary moments, but the real measure of a person is in what sort person that person is during the humdrum.

Oswald Chambers writes,

“The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Oct. 12 entry.

It is during the ordinary, the off-stage buzz of a man’s life, when the applause has died, the theatre has emptied, and he is at home in his slippers, that his guard is down and we see the true character.

C.S. Lewis adds to this subject,

“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.164.

And it is this man… this woman… whom Christ sees and knows at all times. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Extraordinary episodes do not impress the Almighty! They impress people, and people often wrongly praise the performer. We must not be duped by this. We must be honest before our Maker. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Cor. 10:12).

As the Almighty is not so much interested in what we do as He is in what we are – and are becoming. The ordinary moments of our ordinary lives are very important. It is in these that one’s character is made. As Jesus taught, “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much.” (Luke 16:10, NASB).

Faithfulness… this is in fact the true greatness of the man we considered yesterday: “Enoch walked faithfully with God…” (Gen. 5:24). “…he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Heb. 11:5-6).

Value your humdrum moments and days. Don’t look to others, look to Christ. As Paul writes, “Live as children of light… find out what pleases the Lord…. making the most of every opportunity…” (Eph. 5:8,9,16). In the Lord’s eyes you can be as Enoch!

Press on…

Swept away…

Wed., Jan. 19/22

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Gen. 5:24). If ever there’s a statement to hook a reader to read on that one most certainly qualifies! But… the thing is, there is no next statement! Well, there is, but it’s not about Enoch, it’s about his boy Methuselah’s virility and longevity. Just what happened with Enoch we can only guess.

It’s not till the book of Hebrews in the New Testament that we get a tidbit more, perhaps a hint at the reason for this divine abduction. In chapter 11 we read,

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Heb. 11:5-6).

It seems the Almighty just liked Enoch so much that He snatched him up!

But Enoch was not the only one to leave this life uniquely. Elijah was another mystery man of ancient days. He too departed this earth in a most non-traditional manner! You can read his story in 2 Kings 2:1-18, but start back at 1 Kings 17 – this dude’s life story is amazing!.

Many believe these two men will reappear in the last days as the two prophets spoken of in Revelation 11:3-12.

But both of these men were born in the usual manner, both spent early years as children, both hungered, thirsted, loved, and bled. Both experienced temptations, struggled, learned, and grew. Of Elijah, James writes “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings]” (James 5:17, Amplified Bible). They too got wet when it rained, slept at night, and put their tunics on one foot at a time… er, well… you know what I mean.

Why am I going on about these guys? Well, my thought today is this: God uses ordinary people, folk like you and I, to do extraordinary things! Miracles even. Didn’t He say, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12).

Thing is, we must be humble. When we get to the point where we’re willing to just simply “walk faithfully with God,” not caring at all if anyone ever notices, then we will be, as Paul writes Timothy, “instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). To be swept away… swept away with God!

Why not make that your goal today?

Press on…

What to do when you can’t reach your itch!

Tues., Jan. 18/22

It burns, it tingles, it gets all crawly… sweaty. Your skin screams to be set free, to breathe again! But the calendar on the wall says “not yet,” two more weeks before the cast can be cast.

It’s an unbearable thing to have an unreachable itch! That spot dead center on your back, beneath that hardened cast, or deep inside, “under your skin,” tickling your mind or conscience. — Itches are very real. Just try ignoring one.

Its called Pruritus, not that it helps, and it is a sensation caused by the stimulation of nerve cells in your skin, not that that helps either! Scratching sends distracting signals to your brain… temporarily. You get a jolt of serotonin, feel that “Aaaah” good feeling, but then, a few moments later, the pruritis problem persists.

Dryness is the most common culprit of skin itch and the sources I consulted agree: scratching is not the solution. You may even need to visit your doctor.

Interestingly, dryness is very likely also the cause of your spiritual itch! Augustine’s oft-cited summary says it best: “Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” – St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Nothing else quite cuts it. When the itch is for God no other scratching spot will do. But of course not one of us can reach that spot! We are mortal, He is eternal. We are sinful, He is holy. We are finite, He is infinite!

Sometimes, when my wife’s back gets unbearably itchy she will come to me and say, “Please, could you scratch my back?” I am happy to do so. I know I can do what she cannot. I love her, and am pleased she has come to me instead of persisted in the frustration of trying to do it herself.

Turns out, this is exactly what we must do to alleviate our spiritual itch. We cannot reach God ourselves, but we can reach Christ. We can go to Him and say, “Please, will you occupy that empty, itching spot inside me, that I may rest in you and be restless no longer?” And He will be happy to do so, for only He can do what we cannot. He loves us, and is pleased when we come to Him instead of persisting in the frustration of trying to reach that unreachable spot by ourselves.

Press on…

My Rainbow

Mon., Jan. 17/22

Maybe you’re like me at the start of a new year, marking it as a time to go back to the beginning and read through your entire Bible again. I was in the midst of this one day last week at the account in Genesis 8 and 9 where, now just after the great flood, God calls Noah and his family, plus all the creatures great and small out from the ark. Noah builds an altar to the Lord and the Lord responds with a promise:

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen. 8:22).

A few verses later in chapter 9 God restates this promise, and then, for the first time ever in human history, the amazing miracle happens! And God says,

I have set My Rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” (Gen. 9:13).

Right there, in that very spot, I stopped. ”My Rainbow,” God had said. He did not give us His rainbow; it remained His own. But He revealed it to Noah, his family, the birds and animals even fishes of the season. “…the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” God was willing to give mankind a second chance.

Now, every time the conditions are right God reveals to us His great sign as well. Every time the conditions are right we ought to remember that one Great Deluge and the sin which precipitated it.  And every time the conditions are right we ought look to Him with thankfulness that He is willing still to give us a second chance. He promises it… with His Rainbow, not ours.

Grace and forgiveness are wholly works of His Hand.

You know, as I think about it, the Bible tells us of a LOT of things that really belong to God. “In the beginning God,” records Genesis (Gen. 1:1). “Through Him [Jesus] all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made,” records John (John 1:1-3). “…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Gen. 1:2). God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit working together to create all things. Everything belongs to God — even your very soul rightfully belongs to Him.

To what have you been holding that really belongs to God?

Press on…

Take What You Need

Fri., Jan. 14/22

I’ve been going to the Lord for a lot of things in these recent days. Well O.K., maybe sometimes I’ve just been forwarding mail to Him. But the other times… the times when I really GO TO HIM… the times when I’m desperate or perhaps just intently persistent, persistent enough to know I’ve entered into this other place… this holy place… a place in which apart from Him I have no right to be, these are the times when I really RECEIVE from Him. I take what I need, and I THANK Him. But then, in a day or two, like that little tear off piece of paper you see posted on bulletin boards, the thing I got from Him seems somehow to go missing.

I rather suspect maybe you too have experienced this. Theologically you know Christ is the Answer, the Source, the Rock to which you turn. Yet still there are those dark times… those silent times… those times when faith seems small.

Well, welcome to the walk of faith! It is just such times as these which spawn those great passages from which we draw hope…

“…through the valley of the shadow of death..” (Ps. 23:4); “…under great pressure… beyond our ability to endure… despaired of life itself.” (2 Cor. 1:8b); “…tortured… faced jeers and flogging… chains and imprisonment... (Heb. 11:36); “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

No one said this walk of faith was easy — least of all Christ Jesus. No, in fact, He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Matt. 16:33). So go to Him in your times of need. Take from Him what you need, and if you lose it, go to Him again. Sometimes He’ll ask you to sit down and stay awhile and, if you are wise, you will.

Faith may not always be easy, but it is always simple.

Press on…

Going out…

Thur., Jan. 13/22

Adventure happens when we brave our way out into the unknown. Not, mind you, as going out “on a lark,” that is as by a whim for the play of it. But going out by a call to it… perhaps fearfully, yet compelled by the duty of it — through a dark and howling woods perhaps toward some desperate cries of “Help!”

This is the sort of “going out” to which our spiritual father Abraham was called. Of him scripture states, “By faith Abraham… obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb. 11:8). His motivation was this “call,” a plea not to save but one desperate soul, but in God’s plan, to save many souls… spiritual descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (v. 12).

How did he do this? “By faith…” We are called to faith. We only imagine our whims. The worldly-wise adventurer goes out on a limb, but the spiritually discerning believer is called and goes out in faith, on the Branch, the root of David. (Isa. 11:1, Zech. 3:8, 6:12, Rom. 15:2, Rev. 22:16).

Abraham went out by faith… faith in His Guide… the Branch… the same Guide and Branch Who dwells in the hearts of all who willingly come to Him. The Holy Spirit, the “deposit” of God.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13).
When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13b-14).
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isa. 30:21).

By faith Abraham… obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. — Now there is true Adventure!

Press on…

Hearts Above!

Wed., Jan. 12/22

I looked up out the passenger seat window as my wife backed the car out from our garage. “Look! — A heart” I said, pointing to above our neighbour’s eaves. Sure enough… there it was. How it got there I do not know, but carefully carved in the overnight snow was this lovely frosty form.

We went about our business for the day, which for a time included being parked waiting at a roadside. Then I saw the second one! Again, looking up and out through the passenger side window. This one appeared up high in a tree, a shape formed by possibly the only leaves left.

Twice now I had been still, looked up, and noticed messages that had been there all the while… been there long before my looking… long before my discovery of them.

David, must have looked up often as he shepherded his sheep. His discovery he put to song,

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1).

Paul testified to just how long indeed God’s messages have been there… waiting on individuals to be still… to look up… to take notice,

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20).

Korah, was a descendant of Levi the son of Jacob. In Numbers 16 we read of how he gathered 249 others and led a rebellion against Moses. As a consequence fire from heaven consumed them followed by a plague which slew a further 14,700 men who complained at this punishment.

Years later descendants of this Korah chose not to follow his rebellious ways. They learned to listen to the love of God instead. Eleven of the Psalms were written by these men. Among them was Psalm 46 where we read “Be still, and know that I am God,

Seems to me the older I get the more I seek stillness. To be still… to look up… to take notice.

How do you choose to live this day?

Press on…

“…and then this dog pulls up…”

Tues., Jan. 11/22

I eased into the parking spot, gaze focused on the bumper of the car facing so as not to tap it. Then I looked up.

In the driver’s seat of the car in the stall facing me sat a dog, looking for all the world as though he too had just pulled in! Ten… maybe fifteen or more seconds passed as we sat, nose to nose in our parking stalls, eyeball to eyeball in our driver’s seats. It was like a challenge, though neither of us had made any driving faux pas. But still, we stared. The challenge was more intellectual than physical. Neither had noticed the other until that one simultaneous instant of mutual shocked discovery!

Things are not always as they seem, are they? The U.F.O. observed through the car windshield is really a reflection on the glass, the four easy payments grow to a not so easy twelve, the shortcut takes longer, and the slam dunk you executed so well in college now slams you to the blacktop below.

Ever wonder if the same might be true of spiritual things? Might the way we think about some spiritual matters really not be that way at all?

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a French philosopher and paleontologist. Though a Darwinian he was also a Jesuit priest, a theologian, and a teacher. He is widely attributed as having stated, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Not that the material world is unreal in any way, but that at present our eternal souls inhabit these material and temporal forms. As someone else once said, “You do not have a soul, you are a soul and have a body.”

Knowing this to be true the Apostle John wrote,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:1-3).

God has a plan! He made us, breathed life into us, made us “living souls”… forever! Right now we are in living, learning, limited human bodies. Soon these will die… it’s a result of our sad rebellion.

But this world is not all there is! True life is not as it seems: not just things and doings in this life only. Death is not what it seems either: not an ending, but a change…

Determining what that change looks like is the business of this life now. As in his gospel John also accounts,

He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:11-13).

Trust Christ with your life… your soul. Love Him… obey Him… He alone is The Truth.

Press on…

New Beginnings…

Mon., Jan. 10/22

New beginnings require transformation. A new job, perhaps a new suit. A new relationship, perhaps a new persona. A new baby, well… far too many things to list here! — Today is a new beginning of sorts for me.

Perhaps you have followed me on my initial blog site, thebrokenrunner.com. If not, have a look. There are now some 870 weekday posts to be found there.

The above site followed a topical pattern throughout each week. They were written while I served as Elder and Assistant Pastor at Lincoln Baptist Church, New Brunswick, Canada. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week I focused on some aspect of the previous Sunday’s sermon message. Thursdays were reserved for a rotating sequence of topics related to Discipleship — the growth of a young Christian toward maturity in Christ. On Fridays I responded to reader questions on any matter of Christian life and doctrine.

Toward the end of 2021 health reasons required me to step down from my duties at Lincoln Baptist Church. L.B.C. remains my home church and its members my dearest family in our Lord. But for me it was a time for change. A time for a New Beginning.

Pressing On…” is one such new beginning. Here my format will be freer, posts will be random, on any topic upon my heart at the time. I continue to welcome reader feedback and questions and will be happy to address them. I enjoy writing and expect to post daily, but without guarantee.

A new year marks a time of new beginnings for many people. I hope you will make this a time of personal new beginnings also — in Christ.

“And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'” (Rev. 21:5)

Please join me as we “press on” (Phil. 3:12-15) together toward that high calling of God… that “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) into which Christ Jesus has taken hold to transform us… indeed to make new all those who call upon His Name.

Press on…

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