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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Did You Meme That? - A Good Life Ambition?

"My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."  
Attributed to Leonard Ravenhill.

Ambition - noun - "a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work...desire and determination to achieve success." [Source]

Main - adjective - "1. chief in size or importance." [Source]

Should our chief goal in life, the thing which we work towards the most, be to get on "the devil's most wanted list" (if such a thing even exists)? According to this quote it is apparently a worthy aim.

But, what saith the scriptures?

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

Notice that this is the one thing Paul does. It is, then, his "main ambition in life." It has nothing whatsoever to do with what the devil thinks of him and everything to do with Jesus Christ. 

Our goals in life should not be based upon anything so sorry as what Satan thinks of us. Instead of focusing on Jesus Christ, this thinking focuses on the devil and making him mad. What a lamentable aim that is. And, in thinking about it, I can see how that would please the devil rather than angering him because if we are basing our main ambitions and goals in life on getting his attention, we are not basing them on the glorious ambition of glorifying God and lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Jesus sent His disciples out to do works under His authority they came back rejoicing, but in something which He didn't approve.

Luke 10:17-20 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 

Notice that they were joyful and the apparent reason was that the devils were subject unto them through Jesus' name. This tendency of humans is not so surprising because the devil, being the prince of the power of the air, has typically kept mankind in bondage in many ways and exercises great power over people.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 

Hebrews 2:14-15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 

So, it is not uncommon for Christians to get a big rush out of the fact that we now have power over Satan and his devils through Christ Jesus. 

However, consider the answer Jesus gave His disciples in Luke 10. First, He tells them that He saw Satan fall from heaven. This is likely referring to the time before the creation of the earth, or shortly afterwards, when Satan was cast out of heaven for his sin of pride and rebellion against God (see Isaiah 14). In any case, Christ goes on to say that He gives them His power over the enemy - Notwithstanding. This means "in spite of this," and then He goes on to say, "...in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

Especially notice that He specifically commanded them not to rejoice in this power they had, even though it was through His name.

Now, what do you suppose Jesus Christ would think of making one's main ambition in life to "get on the devil's most wanted list"? He told His disciples while He was on this earth not to rejoice in the fact that He had given them power over the devils, but to rejoice that their names were written in heaven. I think that part of the reason for this is because this sense of their own importance and power are a direct route to walking in pride.

The fascination with the power over devils is one reason that certain groups make a big show out of "casting out devils" and various stunts intended to display their alleged power over Satan. It is very enticing stuff because it makes people feel very big and important, and even if they give lip service to Jesus Christ, they generally develop a sense of their own greatness when once they start down that path. It is also a temptation to become preoccupied with Satan and his works rather than keeping focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of them, though, are not really working in the power or Spirit of God. If they were they would be more interested in different things. It can easily become a source of pride to "prove" that we have God's power and that He is working through us by making a big display of it. (Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the groups that handle deadly snakes to "prove" they have God's power.) If we are really walking in the Spirit of God, we will be focused on following Christ's steps and rejoicing that our names are written in heaven as He told the disciples in Luke 10.

In John 15 Jesus clearly says that the Comforter will testify of Him. The Spirit's job is not to make a show of power over the devils, but to testify of Christ. John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 

Colossians 2:14-15 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 

It is Jesus who triumphed over the principalities and powers and made a show of them openly. The Holy Spirit testifies of these things. The mind of Christ is not to rejoice in overpowering the devil and making him hate us more. It is to rejoice that we now have salvation through His name (Acts 4:12) and that we can take unto us the whole armor of God (Eph. 6) and stand in His strength. All of this is because our names are written in heaven, and that blessing was purchased for us under the new testament (Heb. 9:15) in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, why waste one's life trying to get on Satan's "most wanted list" when we can live every day and hour in the glory and joy of knowing complete salvation and assurance of heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners, the Savior, the good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, and the author and finisher of our faith! Truly, it is a very low ambition indeed compared with what we have to rejoice over!

If Mr. Ravenhill actually said this it lowers him in my estimation because from a biblical standpoint this should not be anyone's main ambition in life at all. We should be striving to follow Christ's steps as we read in 1 Peter 2:21, For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Of course, we will feel the attack of Satan on our lives from time to time, and in some situations this will be more fierce when we are pressing the battle into his territory in some way, but to attract his attentions should never be a motivating force or ambition in our lives. It seems to me to be unworthy of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has given us and told us.

We all say foolish things at times, I know, but I sincerely hope that no one will be posting my foolish sayings with approval after I am dead and gone. I am sure that Mr. Ravenhill would not be glad to know that this unbiblical saying of his was being posted on social media by today's Christians.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. 

When we post anything online as something we agree with and approve, it is as if we were saying it ourselves, and it is certainly the meditation of our hearts, at least for that moment. Let's strive to make these things that are acceptable in the sight of God, not just things that sound clever and powerful but are not faithful to the word of God.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Evening Song - Then Came Jesus

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tennessee Memories - Winter Trees

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
  Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
  I listen, and it cheers me long.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Excerpt from "Woods In Winter"

Photos taken near Kingston, Tennessee.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Random Thoughts On A Very Blowy Night

Pink roses are one of my favorite flowers.

The wind is strong and blustery this night (Jan. 15). The house has been sometimes creaking and there are occasional rumbles around the roof as I begin this. Tonight the weather is supposed to change from the mild and pleasant day we had earlier to a "wintery mix" - snow or rain or sleet or ice or all of them. Cold temperatures at any rate. The sort of thing one expects of January in many places, but not always in central Texas.

I thought I would put together some random things tonight, which you will read tomorrow - which will be today by then. :-)


Here is the best poem I've read lately in my searching around for poems.

Blue Winter

Winter uses all the blues there are.
One shade of blue for water, one for ice,
Another blue for shadows over snow.
The clear or cloudy sky uses blue twice-
Both different blues. And hills row after row
Are colored blue according to how far.
You know the bluejay's double-blur device
Shows best when there are no green leaves to show.
And Sirius is a winterbluegreen star.

by Robert Francis


Here is a random thing from my large collection of things I might use "someday."

This is a riddle. Can you guess what it is? :-)

"Old Mother Twitchett had but one eye,
And a long tail which she let fly;
And every time she went through a gap,
A bit of her tail she left in a trap."


The best things that have happened to me so far this year:

Making it to church meeting two Sundays in a row. (We go in the evenings only since I can't make the trip twice in one day and the evening service offers more opportunities for fellowship afterwards since people aren't rushing off to find their dinners.)

Spending time with my husband, because I did marry my best friend!  (Yes, I don't think a whole lot of some recent posts on various sites proposing that we shouldn't marry our best friend. haha. Maybe I'll write more on that later.)

Being well enough to make my mother the birthday dinner she requested on her birthday - New Year's day. It was a big deal after being pretty much sick for three weeks in December. It was also a big deal because my mom turned 75 that day! How in the world did she make it that far already?! Thank the Lord she is still with us, though, and in reasonably good health! :-)

Sitting in the sun in our living room while listening to an audio book, often coloring or drawing. So quiet and peaceful.


Here is a random photo from the past. This is my great-grandmother's kitchen in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Last I knew the house was still standing and being used for an office. It has not been lived in for a very long time.

Her stove is on the left, then the cabinet with the sink. On the right is the corner of a kitchen table. Check out that crazy tile design. I'm sure some people would love that. I wonder what colors it had. I think it would make me dizzy. :-)


A verse I read recently that I especially like:

Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 

I have liked this verse from the story of the prodigal son for a long time. The main reason is because the father saw him while he was still "a great way off" and ran to meet him. That means the father was watching, keeping an eye out for the return of his wayward child. So it is with the Lord, who is typified by the father. He is watching for those who are wandering from Him and He will see us and run to meet us and welcome us back when we make any effort to return and be restored to fellowship with Him. This is very comforting and precious.


A poem from my collection of Christian poems:


I need not bear my little cross alone,
I draw upon the riches of His grace;
But when my SAVIOUR hung upon HIS Cross
In agony, God turned away His face!

by Martha Snell Nicholson


And so good night, or good morning, or good afternoon - whenever you are reading this. :-)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hard Questions - Are You Riding On Past Victories?

Originally published Dec. 2013. Edited.

My dad used to tell us, “You can’t coast on past victories.” What he meant was that things we did in the past for the Lord aren’t “enough to last a lifetime." We have to keep pressing forward, finding new things to do for Christ, and striving against sin in the present. Past victories may be sweet memories, even invigorating, but they don’t suffice to justify our existence today.

We would think it strange if an unemployed and poverty stricken man enjoyed boasting of the $50 an hour he once made but showed no interest in finding a new job. If a father asked his child, “Well, son, have you been obedient today?”and the boy answered, “Well, I was last week,” the father would be quite unimpressed. Boasting of past blessings and victories is pretty much the same.

Martin Lloyd-Jones had this to say:

“I have always found it depressing to listen to the kind of people who, whenever you meet them, will always for sure tell you the story of their conversion many years ago. They tell you that story every time. I have known people do exactly the same thing with revival. There is always something about an initial experience that is remarkable and outstanding. And a time of revival is so amazing and wonderful that it is not surprising that people go on talking about it. But, if they give the impression that they have had nothing since that wonderful experience, that ever after they have been walking through a wilderness, and travelling through a desert, then it is absolutely wrong. Their idea of the Christian life is of a dramatic experience, perhaps at the outset, after which they just trudge along, living on the strength of that and partly keeping their eye turned backwards as they go forward.”

My family had a friend who once said something to this effect – “They talk about revivals and how we need to get all fired up again for God. I don’t want to go up and down all the time. I would rather just live with a steady zeal all the time.”

What are you doing? Are you riding on past victories with nothing to speak of from recent times? If so, what can you do to get back into “active duty” as it were? Or, are you one of those Christians who lives a roller coaster life plunging to defeat or lethargy then bounding up to exultation and zeal after a good “revival”, only to follow the same path of descent again before long?

It is something worth thinking about.

The apostle Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Paul was not content to “rest upon his laurels,” as it were, yet if anyone had room to boast in accomplishments he did. Instead he left us an example of pressing forward – whether it was in the body (during his missionary journeys) or in spirit (during his prison years).

Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.

The Christian life is one of moving forward, of not lingering indefinitely over the foundations. We should never stop growing in grace. And, while we are stedfast and unmoveable we should also be abounding in the work of the Lord.

2 Peter 3:17-18 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.