Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death - Purity 951
Purity 951 01/26/2023 Purity 951 Podcast
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Today’s photo of shoreline pathway under blue skies decorated with gossamer like clouds comes to us from Fred Dimmick who shared this scene from his hike along Persimmon Creek in North Carolina on social media commenting that come spiring the water levels would be up to the tree line! Just a couple of weeks ago Fred had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix so we are happy to see that like this shoreline pathway, that medical episode was only temporary as he obviously has been back on his feet and sharing his views of the world again.
Well, It’s Thursday, and I used Fred’s photo because it highlights a pathway of sorts and it points to the changing state of our world. As we go forward through time and space on the pathway of Christian Discipleship, people and places come and go and we although we may feel that not much changes from day to day, things can happen quite suddenly that changes things forever.
Yesterday, I attended the memorial service for a relative who walked this earth for 80 years and the people gathered to remember him gave testimony to the amount of people his life touched but his walk on the earth has been diverted to eternity and even though his loved ones could count on his steady presence in their lives for decades, they will now have to get used to walking through their lives without them.
His widow and sons were very gracious and friendly in greeting all of the people who came out to mourn the loss of their loved one but their sorrow was evident and their grief will continue as they adjust to the “new normal” without their husband and father in their life.
The quick pace of our world can be rather unsympathetic as those who suffer loss are more or less forced to move on with their lives in the face of devastating losses. I have the utmost sympathy for my relatives immediate family because I remember well the altered state of reality and depression that I entered back in 2002 when my infant son died. You only get so much time for bereavement and then the world expects you to get back to work and carry on. Everyone grieves differently as everyone’s losses are highly individual but I know now that when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death it makes a huge difference when you walk through it with God.
When I lost my son, I wasn’t exactly “born again”. My lapsed Catholic, confirmed Episcopalian faith was pretty shallow and when I suffered his loss I was filled with sadness and anger and I abandoned God and the church. I guess my faith was pretty conditional. After living the wild life of a prodigal, I returned home with a desire to find peace and love. I eventually met my ex and when we decided to get married and have children, we decided that it was best to “go back to church”. I was not thrilled with the idea of going back to the Catholic church and when she offered the “Catholic Light” alternative of the Episcopalian church, I enthusiastically agreed to switch denominational teams.
I really liked our extremely liberal Episcopalian church and even though my faith was no deeper than when I was a Catholic, I prayed sincerely, and we attended service regularly. I had a sense that I had made peace with God. We got married in the church and began to have kids; life was good. Granted, I was still a recreational drunk, but I figured me and God were “good”.
But then my son, Holden, died and even though I blamed myself for his death because I should have “known” that the doctor was wrong, that my son was in mortal danger despite his positive diagnosis over the weekend before his death, I still had enough bitterness to blame the Lord for not answering my prayers to heal him. So God broke our deal. I had gone to church, and I was supposed to have a good life. Because God had let me down, I was done with Him. I stopped going to church and I stopped praying to or believing in God.
I walked into the valley of shadow of death with just the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I, and the world became ice cold as I saw everything as temporary as I viewed everything as on a collision course with death.
The years after my son’s death were a blur of depression and going through the motions of work, raising my remaining children, and trying to squeeze circumstantial happiness out of excesses of materialism, creature comforts, and alcohol and drugs. Life was temporary and apparently meaningless so it was best to live it up. I was the responsible prodigal in my own home, working hard all day and playing hard all night in a vicious cycle of trying to carry on.
I eventually stopped the madness and sought a spiritual solution but made some poor choices there and it was only by the grace of God, years later, that I came to Christ in 2010, eight years after my son passed. It was a long time in the desert, and I don’t recommend it.
So trust me when I tell you that Christ is the only way to God and that it is only in coming to know Him and His ways that we can find meaning, purpose, and peace. The truths of Christianity are sometimes paradoxical and can be lost in the confusion of social constructs of “church life” but I am telling you that if you honestly and sincerely seek the Lord, you will find Him and if you apply His wisdom to the way you live, you will see the fruit of the Spirit grow and transform your life.
God is the Truth. God is Love. God is eternal and He never changes although everything in His creation does. As much as everything in this universe can be seen as temporary, God is the One Constant and He will never leave us or forsake us. So if you are suffering loss or lacking meaning, don’t run from the Lord, Run to Him.
When you are on your own, you have no wisdom or power. When you look at the world with the belief that there is no God, there is no hope and no matter what individual efforts you make to achieve happiness, they are doomed to failure as you have neglected the Source of all that is good and decided to worship your self or the things He created rather than the Creator. If you are going the wrong way, it doesn’t matter how walk or where you walk, you are lost in the desert, you are lost in the valley of the shadow of death.
But there is hope. There is a light to follow. There is a Savior to save you. Jesus Christ. His coming to earth was God stepping out of eternity to wake us up to His presence and His love.
So if you don’t have Christ, pray the Him and make Him your Lord and Savior. He alone brings life. He alone brings forgiveness. He alone brings peace.
And if you know Him, but have lost hope because of the changing circumstances of life or compounded losses, stop looking at the world and look to Him and either learn or remember who He has made you to be, in Christ.
In the face of recent losses, dashed hopes and disappointments, it can be easy to focus on the bad but when we look to Jesus, we can find our way back on the path of peace and joy that He has for us. So keep walking and talking with God, He will remind you that you have been saved, been made complete, and lack for nothing, He will show you that you have already been set free and that the only thing that is temporary in His kingdom is pain we feel on earth and that a great deal of it can be lifted from us when we abide in Him.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Psalm 31:19 (NLT2)
19 How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us of the goodness that God stores up for those who fear Him and how He blesses those who come to Him.
The blessings of the Lord only come to those who fear Him and come to Him.
We who are guilty of sin must fear His wrath. Otherwise, we would not come to Christ to receive our forgiveness, new eternal life, and peace with God. We fear eternity in hell and surrender to the Lordship of Christ to be saved from that fate. Saved from hell? Sound like a blessing to me! That’s the protection we need! It’s the protection that last forever and covers everything that could befall us because although we may suffer on earth in light of eternity, we can know that our pain is a light affliction because we will one day experience no more pain, no more tears, and no more death when we come into God’s kingdom.
However, God’s peace does join us on earth. When we abide in His presence and live according to His truth we are blessed with the fruit of the Spirit and the good consequences that come from righteous living. So fear the Lord by respecting His commands and by making the decision to obey Him to receive the blessings of faithfully following the One who loves us and knows best so you can see how great is the goodness that He stores up for us.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION, concludes.
3. The Sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit in Salvation concludes
The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operations and His mission is confined to God’s elect: they are the ones He “comforts,” “seals,” guides into all truth, shews things to come, etc. The work of the Spirit is necessary in order to the complete accomplishment of the Father’s eternal purpose. Speaking hypothetically, but reverently, be it said, that if God had done nothing more than given Christ to die for sinners, not a single sinner would ever have been saved. In order for any sinner to see his need of a Saviour and be willing to receive the Saviour he needs the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within him as imperatively required. Had God done nothing more than given Christ to die for sinners and then sent forth His servants to proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ, thus leaving sinners entirely to themselves to accept or reject as they pleased, then every sinner would have rejected, because at heart every man hates God and is at enmity with Him. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit was needed to bring the sinner to Christ, to overcome his innate opposition, and compel him to accept the provision God has made. We say “compel” the sinner, for this is precisely what the Holy Spirit does, has to do, and this leads us to consider at some length, though as briefly as possible, the parable of the “Marriage Supper.”
In Luke 14:16 we read, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.” By comparing carefully what follows here with Matthew 22:2–10 several important distinctions will be observed. We take it that these passages are two independent accounts of the same parable, differing in detail according to the distinctive purpose and design of the Holy Spirit in each Gospel. Matthew’s account—in harmony with the Spirit’s presentation there of Christ as the King says, “A certain king made a marriage for his son.” Luke’s account—where the Spirit presents Christ as the Son of Man—says “A certain man made a great supper and bade many.” Matthew 22:3 says, “And sent forth His servants”; Luke 14:17 says, “And sent His servant.” Now what we wish particularly to call attention to is, that all through Matthew’s account it is “servants,” whereas in Luke it is always “servant.” The class of readers for whom we are writing are those that believe, unreservedly, in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, and such will readily acknowledge there must be some reason for this change from the plural number in Matthew to the singular number in Luke. We believe the reason is a weighty one and that attention to this variation reveals an important truth. We believe that the “servants” in Matthew, speaking generally, are all who go forth preaching the Gospel, but that the “Servant” in Luke 14 is the Holy Spirit, for God the Son, in the days of His earthly ministry, was the Servant of Jehovah (Isa. 42:1). It will be observed that in Matthew 22 the “servants” are sent forth to do three things: first, to “call” to the wedding (v. 3); second, to “tell those which are bidden … all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” (v. 4); third, to “bid to the marriage” (v. 9); and these three are the things which those who minister the Gospel today are now doing. In Luke 14 the Servant is also sent forth to do three things: first, He is to say to them that were bidden, Come: for all things are now ready” (v. 17); second, He is to “bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (v. 21); third, He is to “compel them to come in” (v. 23), and the last two of these the Holy Spirit alone can do!
In the above scripture we see that “the Servant,” the Holy Spirit, compels certain ones to come in to the “supper” and herein is seen His sovereignty, His omnipotency, His Divine sufficiency. The clear implication from this word “compel” is, that those whom the Holy Spirit does “bring in” are not willing of themselves to come. This is exactly what we have sought to show in previous paragraphs. By nature, God’s elect are children of wrath even as others (Eph. 2:3), and as such their hearts are at enmity with God. But this “enmity” of theirs is overcome by the Spirit and He “compels” them to come in. Is it not clear then that the reason why others are left outside, is not only because they are unwilling to go in, but also because the Holy Spirit does not “compel” them to come in? Is it not manifest that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the exercise of His power, that as the wind “bloweth where it pleaseth,” so the Holy Spirit operates where He pleases?
And now to sum up. We have sought to show the perfect consistency of God’s ways: that each Person in the Godhead acts in sympathy and harmony with the Others. God the Father elected certain ones to salvation, God the Son died for the elect, and God the Spirit quickens the elect. Well may we sing,
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 84–86.