First Rest - Then Victory: Joshua
First Rest - Then Victory definitely increases one's understanding of the meaning, message, and relevance of the book of Joshua. It is so practical that the reader will find it useful as a personal devotion, but above all, it makes the reader think. And it could be one of the things that helps the reader experience the "success" God promised to Joshua."
When they are in trouble, more people turn to the Book of Psalms than to any other part of the Bible. And not just for consolation, but for insight and guidance. It is a wealth of wisdom for the meek and hungry.
A Very Present Help: Psalms For Today
Written more than 3,000 years ago, the Psalms are as current as our daily newspaper, and as timeless as God Himself. They are His very word to us, both individually and corporately.
Some people may be intimidated by what they suppose is a collection of archaic and irrelevant--and, therefore, obscure--writings. No assumtion could be further from reality. What has been said of the entire Bible may be said most particularly of this Wisdom Literature: It is not so much a difficult book as it is an inexhaustible book. The more often you read it, the more fully you plumb its contents, the more it yields its treasure to you.
But you must read it "on your knees." It hides itself from "the wise and prudent," and has no truck whatever with the wisdom of this world. Again, like the whole of Scripture, it is not addressed to proud "scribes and pharisees," but to believers! Obedient believers.
A Personal Word
Most of these Readings were born as sermons. Many of them first appeared in print as a column in “The Sower,” “The Immanuel Message,” or as longer articles in “Conviction.” All of them came out of more than twenty years in the pastoral ministry, primarily in the rural or small urban church. They are offered now in this present form at the persistent urging of a few friends--and perhaps the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit.
If these Readings are a blessing, I'll be grateful; if they are an irritation, I'll be celebrating. Someone has said, “The mind that is never stimulated rarely thinks.” It seems to me that a teacher ought at least to irritate.
To simply share some conclusions with you--that's a dead end. I've attempted to do more. I've tried to say the kind of things that might raise questions.
One of the “trophies” of my Bible college teaching years is the occasion when, after a particularly goading class session, a frustrated student physically choked me. One other secret rewarding memory is of a lecture that sent my students literally running to the library to prove me wrong.
At age 20, when I yielded finally to God's call to the ministry--at sunset, atop a high rock, overlooking the Sea of Japan--my first prayer was, “Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart.” I've known from the beginning that God sent me to the believer, to the Church. I love the Church. I have never been conscious of the slightest desire to hurt her in any way. When I have offended God's children I have prayed--earnestly--that it might work for their good. If I have failed to say “smooth” things it is because I have tried not to: I cannot substitute weak sympathy for my commission to care for the sheep. I must not.
My burden in all that I have written is single: the maturity of the believer, to “present every man perfect” (Colossians 1:28). Of course, maturity is relative (“He's very mature for a five year old.”), but when Christians refuse to grow, the church is a perpetual nursery. Without maturation, evangelism is pitiful: stagnant Christians begetting stagnant Christians, “after his own kind” (Genesis 1:11); and the cities of eternity would be ruled by retarded children. Ruling aside, without maturity there could be no capacity for Heaven. God is after “a perfect man” (Ephesians 4:13), to whom, “in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7).
If in these Readings--”sincere milk... that ye may grow thereby”--you should find a little meat here and there, don't choke--chew!
-John W. Lancaster
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