Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

God's Delays

Here are some thoughts on the character of God.
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (Heb. 11:11-12)

They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation"…The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:4, 9)
The first verse has to do with God’s promise to Abraham, which was fulfilled when he was 100 years old, because Abraham knew that God was faithful and would keep his promise. God kept his promise!

The second passage has to do with the promise of Jesus to return to Earth. He gives us the reason for the seeming delay. He kept this promise to Abraham, and He will keep His promise to us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Always and for Everything

This is a biblical thought on gratitude written by one of my sons. It is very true.

The issue of gratitude is related to one of the basic truths of Scripture. In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul tells us that the fundamental problem of sinful man is that he does not want to honor God as God, and does not want to render thanks to Him. There is something about "thanks to God" that the unbelieving heart does not want to accept. Those of us who have been forgiven so much, and then given so much, need to maintain the contrast between the way we live and the way non-believers do. "Always and for everything giving thanks," we are told. And so we do.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Before the Mountains Were Born

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:1-2)

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children. (Psalm 103:17)
God’s everlastingness has been extended to us who believe. It includes everlasting joy and everlasting kindness. “His love endures forever.” Thank God!

Monday, September 18, 2017

More for the Bookworms

When I was a young Christian, I was out at sea in the Navy. I wanted to grow in the Lord, but I did not know how. There were no strong Christians on my ship whom I could observe and learn from. Then I realized that I could learn from Christians who were not present - through books. I have been reading and giving away books ever since.

You may know Elisabeth Elliot’s books. Did you know that her father, her grandfather, and her great-grandfather were all editors of The Sunday School Times? The Sunday School Times was the leading Christian magazine the first half of the 20th century. Her grandfather, Charles Trumbull, wrote Victory in Christ. It is a great book. His father, Henry Clay Trumbull, was an evangelist in the Civil War. He was the author of Hints on Child Training. It was first published in 1890, and it is still in print. The Kindle version is available for only $0.99.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Common Thread

Here are two verses that have a close relationship with each other:
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Rom. 15:2)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph. 4:29)
Do you see the common thread? Building others up. What we do and what we say should benefit other Christians.

Here are similar thoughts on evangelism.
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1)
This is not optional! We are Christians. What we do and what we say is not for our good but for the good of many that they might be saved.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

God's Checking Account

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)
Notice the “alls” in the sentence: all grace, all things, all times, all that you need.

Pay attention also that all grace abounds and that you will abound in every good work. This is either true or false. If it is true, then thank God!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)
We cannot write a check on God’s bank account that he cannot cover. His checks do not bounce.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Sidelong Glance

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips. (Rom. 1:29)

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)
I am picking on envy for several reasons. First, envy is listed with murder and other gross sins. The Bible says that people who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Another reason is that people do not think of it as evil, just an unpleasant fact of life. They envy others and don't call it sin.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. (Phil. 1:15)

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Pet. 2:1)

So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. (Matt. 27:17-18)
Envy is not innocent. It looks at someone else who has something you do not have, that you wish you did—money, looks, popularity, attention, power, brains, health. Do you want something someone else has? Do you wish you had just a little bit more, or they had a little bit less?

We can spot envy in other people. It manifests itself in gossip, cheating, violence, and murder. Pilate recognized the envy of the Jewish rulers in their handing Jesus over to be crucified.

Monday, September 11, 2017

That Day

In chapters twelve to fourteen of the book of Zechariah, there are about 17 references to “that day.” Here are a few of them.
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. (Zech. 13:1-2)

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zech. 14:8-9)

On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. (Zech. 14:20)
Let us look forward to that day.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Godless Chatter

Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge… (1 Tim. 6:20)
We are bombarded with “godless chatter” every day. In university towns, we are immersed in it. In all of this, there is some of God’s truth. People hear the truth in it and consequently do not recognize the “godless chatter” for what it is. This makes the godless chatter even more dangerous.

There are three ways to train yourself to recognize godless chatter:

1. Know the wisdom of God very well. "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:6-8).

2. Know the enemy. "…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Cor. 2:6-8).

3. Stay awake. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

You may know that CCM's ministries are in locations that are dominated by liberalism, secularism, and/or Mormonism. These communities are also made up of a high proportion of single 18-22-year-old students. The communities are transient because of the universities. We are in these locations for these reasons.

In the last few decades, much of my personal ministry has been with people who have had major sin problems and have had them for years. A twenty-year-old can be converted out of gross sin. A forty-year-old can be converted out of gross sin. What is the difference? The twenty-year-old can, in a few years, marry a godly woman and raise a godly family. The forty-year-old has already had an ungodly forty years, two ungodly wives, and six ungodly children.

We are working with both kinds of people. We need God’s love, wisdom, and authority as we preach the Word.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

My Eschatology

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thess. 4:17-18)

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20)
You may have wondered what my eschatology is. I do not often speak about it. These few words summarize my anticipation: hope, purifies, encourage, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

This keeps me from differing with the saints on the order of events at the end time.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The Glad Anticipation

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4)

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalm 90:1-2)

Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalm 23:6)

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 22:3-5)
The dwelling place of the Lord is lovely, desired, and everlasting.

The years fly by. Daily we are closer to being with Him forever. It is the blessed hope, the glad anticipation.

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Life That Wins (or Victory is Normal)

This is the story of Rosalind Goforth's encounter with the author of one of the best books I have read.

On our first arrival home [on furlough from China], many requests came for my husband to take meetings. When it became known that he could not, I was urged to take his place. But the months of ceaseless overland travel through Inland China with my husband, who was evidently breaking, the nursing, and the anxiety, had all told on me. I felt physically worn, spiritually dead, mentally numb. But deep in my heart I craved for some fresh spiritual blessing, for fresh vision that might enable me to speak once more out of an overflowing hear.

How true, how very true is the sentiment express in the following lines:
Thy soul must overflow
If thou another soul woulds’t reach;
It needs the overflow of heart
To give the lips full speech!
The tender, loving Lord saw just what His child needed and once again worked for her beyond all she could ask or think.

We had been but a short time at the Rest Home when a friend carried me off, insisting that I needed a rest. She took me to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where a Bible conference was being held. There I found myself in a beautiful hotel room with my friends near by. The following morning we gathered under some trees by the auditorium, before the meeting. The scenery was wonderful to me after poor, dried-up China. Through the trees could be glimpsed the beautiful Niagara River flowing down till it entered the lake. Begging my friends to leave me there, I gave myself to the exquisite enjoyment of my surroundings.

A short time passed. Suddenly there came an impelling to enter the auditorium. I obeyed, but the place being full, I walked forward and finally found a seat immediately in front of the pulpit. The speaker was just beginning his address. He was a stranger, but from almost his first sentence his message gripped me.

He drew simply but vividly, first a picture of an ordinary, all to common Christian life. If he had drawn the picture from my everyday life experience, he could not have given it other than he did. Sometimes on the mountain-top with visions of God and His mighty power; then the sagging, the dimming of vision, coldness, discouragement, even definite disobedience and a time of down-grade experience. Again through some sorrow or trial, there would come a return and seeking of the Lord, with again the higher Christian experiences. In a word, an up and down life of intermingled victory and defeat.

The speaker then asked all who truly sought for God’s highest and best, yet who knew the picture he had drawn was true of their Christian life and experience, to hold up their hands. Being in the front seat and realizing many behind knew who I was, and that they thought of me as a “good missionary,” I kept my hand down. It was too humiliating to acknowledge that picture as representing me! But the Spirit of God strove with me. “If you keep your hand down, you are a hypocrite! If you truly want God’s best, humble yourself.” So up went my hand.

Then the speaker drew another picture: it was the Christian life as God had not only planned it for His children, but had made abundant provision for their living it. He described it as a life of Victory, not defeat, of peace and trust, not struggle and worry. All through his address, I kept thinking, “Yes, it’s wonderful, but I’ve tried so often and failed, I doubt if it is possible.” Then the speaker ended by urging us to go over the texts listed on a slip of paper to be given free at the close off the meeting. He emphasized the importance of standing on God’s Word.

The following morning I rose early, as soon as it was light enough to see. On my knees, I read from the list I have mentioned, all the texts given. But before I had gone half way done the list, I saw clearly God’s Word taught, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the overcoming, victorious life in Christ is the normal life God has planned for His children. In the two days that followed, clearer light came, with dawning hope that this life might be possible for me.

The day after reaching home, I picked up the little booklet, The Life That Wins, and, going to my son’s bedside, I asked him to allow me to read the booklet aloud, as it was the personal testimony of Charles G. Trumbull, editor of the “Sunday School Times,” the man who had been a great blessing to me at the conference.

As I began to read, quite a number gathered around, listening with deep interest. I read on till I came to the words: “At last I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and literally within me.” I stopped amazed. The sun seemed suddenly to come from under a cloud and flood my soul with light! How blind I had been! I saw as in a flash the secret of victory. It was just Jesus Christ Himself!

But the thought of victory was for the moment lost sight of in the inexpressible joy of the new vision and realization of Christ.

For days I seemed as I in a dream. Fearing lest I be, as it were, “carried off my feet,” by what had come to me, I determined to seek the advice of one, who had for many years been our beloved and honored foreign missionary secretary, Rev. Dr. R. P. McKay listened sympathetically while I told all. I ended by saying, “Do you think I am going too far in this? I have just sent off to missionaries in China fifty copies of the booklet, The Life That Wins.”

Dr. McKay smiled as he replied, “No, Mrs. Goforth, for I have just sent out to ministers and others several hundred copies of the same booklet.”

Then he gravely added: “Mrs. Goforth, I am amazed; amazed that you have only now come to apprehend this truth of Christ’s indwelling. You have been the wife of Jonathan Goforth for many years. His messages were aglow with this truth. It is the Holy of Holies of our Christian Faith.”

“Yes, Dr. McKay,” I replied humbly, “I begin to realize this and wonder at my blindness. One sentence my husband so often uses has come back to me these days: All the resources of the Godhead are at our disposal!”

"The Life That Wins" has been expanded into the book
Victory in Christ. I give it away to many people each month. Please read it for yourself. If you cannot afford a copy, let me know.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Those Who Divide

You may have experienced Christians or pseudo Christians dividing the body of Christ. The Bible speaks to us about them in several places.
They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude 18-19)

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. (Rom. 16:17-18)

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Cor. 1:10)

In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. (1 Cor. 11:18-19)
We are to be separate from those who divide. How do we recognize them? There will be other indications:

They will secretly slip into the church (Jude 4).
After they are in, they will say that grace is freedom to sin (Jude 4).
They will deny Jesus Christ the Sovereign Lord (Jude 4).
They will gossip.
They will slander.

They do this so well that many of the believers fall for it and enter into their sins.