Living in Meansville

Location: Meansville, GA

I live in Meansville, GA, with my dear husband, David, and two sons, Kyle and Aidan. We live at the foot of a "mountain" (most people from the western states would call it a glorified hill). But this mountain certainly has an effect on our lives. We love it here. We live in the middle of 20.21 acres of former cornfields. A tongue of trees extends into the middle of our land. It is here where the lambs and the chickens reside. The town we live outside of is a small blip on the highway. No stores or gas stations, just a post office and 3 churches, two of which are outside town limits. We do have a dairy farm and a chicken farm! We have lived here since 2001 and hope we will stay a long time.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Why Do Nations Rise and Fall?

Wow, it has been a long, long time since I posted. I am still writing, but unable to find time to get to this stage. We are still showing lambs. We have one more show to do then we are finished with this VERY time-consuming project. Kyle and I are looking forward to getting back to our horses. We are currently in the market for a gentle, well-behaved horse for Aidan, so he too can participate.

In the meantime, homeschool is in full-swing. We are using as our history this year a text published by Veritas Press: Omnibus I. It is actually a history/theology/literature course all rolled into one integrated curriculum. We are studying the ancients again this year and the course starts us in the book of Genesis. Omnibus contains an essay concerning the book to be studied, covering author, setting and worldview, among other things. Then there are comprehension questions, text analysis, followed by cultural and biblical analsis. Lots of thinking, writing and discussion for this course. So far we have covered Genesis, Exodus, Epic of Gilgamesh, Code of Hammurabi and Kyle is finishing up 1&2 Samuel. I am ahead a chapter (or trying to stay ahead) into 1&2 Kings. In addition to the history/theology Primary books, we are also studying Secondary books which covers more of a literature/theology approach. So far we have read "Till We Have Faces" and the 1st 3 books of the Narnia Chronicles, by C.S. Lewis.

I am enjoying this study! We are required to ask and answer questions and examine perspectives we have not studied before. We are encouraged to think of what we are studying in light of our culture and our own personal lives. We are then brought to a point of examining the material from a Biblical perspective, which helps us to apply God's Word to our daily walk with Him. Hopefully, we will have a correct view of life and the world and respond in a godly way to events and people as a result of this study.

One of the questions asked in the study of 1&2 Kings is, "Why do nations rise and fall?" The story of Kings is the story of the rise and fall of the kingdom of Israel. It also shows how God uses other nations to bring about this course of history. I can see how God ordained all of Israel's history and that it worked out exactly according to His plan. What a tremendous God He is! Impressive, magnificent, intelligent designer of all history past, present and future. It should make us tremble with great awe and even fear. He is far greater than we could ever imagine. Below is my response to the Summa question from this study. Would love to hear comments, corrections, etc!

Why Do Nations Rise and Fall?

As historians and archeologists dig through the remains of the distant past, they find evidences of glorious civilizations, highly organized, technologically advanced, wealthy and strong. What brought about their decline? Is there a common denominator? Although each nation’s story has its differences, there is one thing inherent to the nature of mankind which must be considered. Additionally, there is one thing more which must be considered: the divine Providence of God.

The Word of God states that all men are born in a state of sin. In other words, their nature is contrary to the nature of God. God is perfectly holy and good and right. His character is revealed in His moral law, the Ten Commandments. In order to reveal the difference in nature, God had to give His law to man. Man’s sinfulness is so complete, that he cannot rule himself. This is revealed time and time again in the rising and falling of nations and peoples.

The Inca, the Maya, the people of Mohenjo-Daro, all rose to greatness millennia ago. Yet nothing is left of their glory. Archeologists have found great cities buried under centuries of dirt, evidences of a former glory. Sociologists find tribes of people today, living in the area with no understanding of the great knowledge and technological advances of their distant ancestors.

Why did they fall? Why did the people decline? Looking at more recent civilizations with a Biblical view, this question can be answered. As Egypt, and Greece, and Rome each rose to power, there were great advances made in knowledge, politics, and government. Looking closely at the lives of those who helped shape these empires, we find men, and women, who, at their core, were greedy for power, hungry for recognition and status and wealth. They relied upon their own deceit and strengths to obtain their goals, regardless of who they stepped on (or murdered!). One example is that of Shamshi-Adad, ruler of Assyria in the 1800s B.C. He conquered several city-states in northern Mesopotamia with brute force. Then he declared himself “king of the whole world.” After his death, his kingdom weakened and was conquered by Hammurabi of Babylonia.

We see this swelling and rising and decline throughout history, the world over. Some are mere ripples while others tower in their magnificence. Again, why did they fall? Because at his heart, man is basically corrupt. This corruption affects every aspect of life. The cancer of corruption eats away at the souls of men, unraveling society and civility, until the entire structure comes tumbling down. Nations rise and fall because sinful man cannot maintain anything, good or bad, without his sinful nature tainting and finally destroying everything it touches.

Overarching even the dismal failure of man is the Providence of God. God is all powerful and all knowing. In His sovereignty, He Himself declares the end and the beginning. Everything in history, whether the great empires of ancient times or the death of an unknown child in Mongolia, has been planned to the smallest detail. There is not one useless actor or prop on the stage of this universe. All serve the purpose of the Creator. He has a plan which will not be thwarted. He has redeemed a body of believers, the church, which will become the final kingdom. Nations rise and fall because He ordained it from eternity past in order to bring about the culmination of the ages when a people He has purchased with His own blood will worship Him in triumph over sin and death forever. This kingdom will never fail.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why Should I Get All Joyful about "Justification?"

John Piper has a chapter in his book entitled “Fighting for Joy like a Justified Sinner” with the emphasis on justification. He argues at one point that the ground of the Christian’s joy is in the Word of the Cross and that word is all about the justification of sinners.

The Bible has a lot of bad news concerning the human race. I am included in that lot and so are you! We have no righteousness of our own – none at all – and yet we should have. Because of my lack of righteousness I am condemned by God’s Law. Yet here is Jesus Christ, the substitute performer of my righteousness (He lived a perfect, obedient life) and the substitute for the punishment for my sin (He died an obedient death). His perfect life and obedient death not only absolves me from guilt but credits me with a righteousness I do not have. My guilt is removed by His blood (Ephesians 1:7) and my inheritance to heaven is provided by His obedience (Romans 5:19). You see, I still have no righteousness of my own. What Jesus did does not make me righteous. It is His righteousness that I possess and God has made this declaration that I am righteous.

Justification is the only way of salvation. And it is a gift of God. We understand that from Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As if Paul really wanted us to get this gift concept, he modified the word with “free” – a redundancy with a point!

Justification is by faith alone. Ah, there is where my part comes in: I must have faith. Yet even that is given to us by God. We are so dead in our trespasses and sins, we cannot have the faith of a mustard seed; we don’t even desire it. It is a gift of God: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that (the faith) not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). This faith is a gift from God. It all comes from God.

Look at it from a gift standpoint: You see, if you work for something then you get what you have worked for. The thing worked for no longer qualifies as a gift. And God goes further by saying that the wages of sin is death. But the one who trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. This, John Piper says, is the ground of our joy in the cross of Christ:
~Justification is by grace alone – not mixed with my merit
~Through faith alone – not mixed with my works
~On the basis of Christ alone – not mingling His righteousness with mine.

My righteousness is dirty, according to what God says (Isaiah 64:6). And doesn’t He always speak the truth? To mix my “righteousness,” my filthy rags, with that of Christ’s would soil the clean garments Christ has already given me. Christ cleansed me; He washed away my filth, my sin. Then He dressed me, now sparkling clean, in this robe of righteousness. And if I try to work for this gift, to earn it, it is no longer a gift. I accept the gift with joy and gratitude.

If my husband were to come home and present me with tickets to see the Lipizzaner stallions, I would probably flip for joy. I certainly would not say, “How much do I owe you for these?” That would ruin the gift and insult the giver, who, out of love for me, wanted to give me something precious. It would no longer be a gift if I insisted on paying something for it. Besides, I have nothing to give that would merit the worth of those tickets. I do not have a “job” with a paycheck. All that I have comes from the work of my husband. It is the same with justification – I have nothing that can equal its value!

To think I deserve the gift of eternal life in Christ in some way is ludicrous. There is nothing within me or about me that deserves a gift from my Creator. He has always been gracious toward me in so many ways: He planned my existence, gave me life, gave me my talents and skills, gave me all my material blessings and has sustained me thus far. Yet I spent 37 years of my life disdaining His gifts and ignoring the Giver. No, I don’t deserve any further gifts from Him – especially not the best, most precious, priceless gift of being made right with Him. My Father had to change me, change my desires, in order to even make me want this gift. Now that is grace! Offering me something that is for my good and then changing me to help me take it and embrace it, is true grace. Not because He looked down the road of my life and said, “Oh, I see that this one is going to start liking me somewhere in her 37th year.” No, He looked down the road of my life and said, “There, in Beth’s 37th year, I will touch her heart; I will give her the kiss of life and waken her from death. I will show her a reality of life and light.”

He did. So gently, He drew me into His light. I didn’t initiate this thing. I didn’t ask for it. Since then, over the years, my Father has slowly revealed to me the many wonders and facets, the sheer breathtaking beauty of this gift. I still don’t deserve it! It’s a wonder He keeps me and doesn’t take it back. Everyday, I shun the gift in some way. I show my lack of appreciation or live in ignorance of it. But it’s a gift! I didn’t deserve it then, and still don’t now. If I began deserving it, it would cease to be what it is. What a showcase of God’s grace and mercy and love and patience.

This is the ground of my joy in the Gospel. This truly is “the Good News.” If I meditate on this beautiful Truth, if I preach it to myself daily, I would be a joyful fanatic for my Lord and Savior, and in the words of Peter, filled with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Yesterday, we went to our first 4-H Club Lamb show. The boys and the lambs both did a great job. Even Aidan, who had a case of show jitters the night before and couldn't go to sleep, seemed to come into his own once he got there. We had prepped him to answer any questions the judge might ask during showmanship class. She didn't ask, but Aidan surely volunteered.

Here the boys are at a showmanship class given by the county extension agent, Wes Smith, a couple of weeks before the show. (Kyle is in the center with "Earl" and Aidan behind him with "Woolly Bugger". Wes was trying giving them an idea of what it was like to be in the ring. We certainly appreciate the tips and advice from his first hand experience. But there is nothing like really being there and showing!

This is Aidan in showmanship class, setting up his lamb for the judge to consider.

The judge is talking to Aidan after his voluntary answer without being asked. Aidan doesn't usually meet a stranger! Aidan "won" 4th place.

Here is Aidan setting up in the market lamb class. Here the lambs are grouped by weight and judged for carcass value. Little Woolly Bugger is so calm and is a perfect match for a first timer!

Here Aidan is in the lineup for placement. He "won" 6th place!

Here is Kyle lined up for showmanship. He wasn't nervous until he had to come in for the 2nd time. Somehow, the door person got the children mixed up and 4 of them came in on the wrong class. When Kyle came in the 2nd time, in the right class -- that was when the jitters hit him! But he still did well. The judge asked him if there was anything he could change about his lamb right now, what would it be. Kyle immediately replied, "The placement of his left hind leg." (He was too wide apart in how he placed his feet.) Kyle received a 4th place ribbon for his first showmanship class!

For some reason, I couldn't add anymore pictures and so started a new post. Then it took several times. . . ah, well, the trials of blogging when you are blog-illiterate!

Kyle, again, in the placing line-up for showmanship. He placed 4th. He and the three young men who placed under him were all "first time feeders."

A lot of the pictures we took turned out blurry. So here is one from the class Wes did for us, showing Kyle bracing Earl. He and Earl have become quite a team. Kyle is enjoying the lambs so much, he is eager to do it again next year and maybe have 2 or 3 lambs to show. We'll see -- the show season is just gearing up and we have 3 months to go after this.

Thanks so much to all the good folks who have helped us get started. Wes Smith and Debbie Diehl at Upson 4-H for their encouragement and counsel. C&J Club Lambs and Duke Club Lambs for our lambs. Also thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Kelvin Duke for helping us out so much at our first show. We would have been completely lost without them! Thanks also to Julie Smith, the president of our homeschool support group, for inviting us to 4-H last February -- that's where it all started.

4-H has been a wonderful addition to our homeschool and we look forward to the next several years participating in all the great learning opportunities. I encourage parents to get involved with their children in 4-H. It doesn't have to be critter related! There are many other avenues of study. The whole family can be involved and grow and learn and hopefully be a good influence in the lives of others as well. The best thing about 4-H is its stress on leadership and responsibility. Give it a try. I don't think you will regret it!

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Snake in the Hen House!

A beautiful hot July afternoon. I am in the house, preparing to go outside. Kyle is out in the front field on the tractor, mowing the grass. Aidan has already gone out and no doubt is messing with the chickens again. Suddenly, Aidan bursts in the door, "Mom, come quick, it's an emergency!"

I look. I see no blood. No smoke (no fire). He gives more information to ensure his qualification of an emergency, "There's a snake in the chicken pen!"

I dash into the laundry room and fumble for my boots. As I run outside, I am wondering to myself, "Just what do you think you are going to do about this? You cannot even stand the sight of a snake!"

Providentially, Kyle rounds the corner close to the house on the tractor and I am actually able to flag him down. I motion toward the henhouse (you know, he can't hear a thing over the roar of the tractor) and he drives through the yard.

Meanwhile, Aidan and I run to the door of the chicken's house. I can't believe it. A HUGE black snake is dangling from one of the upper nests and his head is hidden in a lower nest. I am helpless. I don't even want to walk in the door!

Kyle gets the snake catcher he and his dad constructed some time ago. He calmly walks into the pen and lassos the snake. The snake's mouth is hovering above one of our precious eggs! How disappointing to be snatched away at the moment of victory.

As Kyle pulls the snake out of the nest, its tail wraps and actually knots around the perch! By now I am in there with Kyle (the snake is safely captured!) and taking pictures. Kyle pulls but the snake just tightens up. So, brave frontier woman that I am, I reach across and smack the snake's knot with my camera. He loosens up and Kyle pulls steadily until he is dangling from the noose of the snake catcher. That snake is easily 5 foot long!

In the meantime, Chicken Little (our pet bantam hen), who has been perching beside the snake, is watching with interest. I guess she was standing guard as best as her little body could do. Silly hen, she could have been the main course!

A few more pictures and Kyle takes the snake to the garden and releases him with a stern warning, "Come back and I'll shoot you!"

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian." --

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Joy in God Is a Gift of God: Doing ourselves what must be done for us. Huh?

What a paradox! But so is the Christian life! It is full of paradox. It is full of both/ands. Following Christ is a box full of coins, each having two distinctly different sides, yet still one coin. The Bible tells us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22). We cannot conjure up true joy without the Spirit within bearing fruit for us. Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is, says C.S. Lewis.

The essence of John Piper’s title for this chapter, I think, is that we are responsible to have what only God can give us. How can that be? There is only one way and it can be found only in God’s Word.

Over and over Scripture commands us to rejoice (Phil. 4:4, Joel 2:23), be glad (Ps. 32:11 & 97:12), delight in the Lord (Ps. 37:4), shout joyfully (Ps. 100:1).

Yet, to do this is beyond my own ability. How easy it is to find myself degenerating into a grumbling, complaining mindset! I naturally focus on what is going wrong, what is bad and how that affects me. I find myself doing what I should not do. It seems we as a people enjoy calamity and disaster; it gives us something to talk about. To top that off, we love to embellish the gossip and send it on down the line a little worse off than it came to us!

This is natural to us as fallen humans. We are so bad that it is impossible to delight in what is good; it is impossible to delight in God. But just because we are not able to delight in Him naturally does not make us less culpable, but more so, actually. Remember, enjoying God, appreciating Him as God, reflects His glory. (The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.) If we are not doing that, then we are sinning! We are separated from God.

We need to remember that the Scriptures tell us that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It’s not just that we sin but that we ARE sinful. We are born this way and are helpless in this condition unless God enters our lives. So sin is not just something that we do but an overwhelming power in our lives from which we cannot free ourselves. We are naturally rebellious and disobedient and hardened against the Word and Spirit of God:

Psalm 143:2 - . . . for no one living is righteous before You.
Jer. 17:9 - . . . the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Ps. 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Rom. 7:18 – I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

As a matter of fact, God says we are dead to Him. Dead men cannot respond to the living around them. If God is alive and we are dead, then we cannot respond to Him at all. Listen:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:1-5

But just because we are dead to God, ignorant of His ways, and incapable of responding to Him, this does not make us any less guilty of this sin. This failure to recognize who He is and to know Him accordingly is sin. The reason we do not know Him, the reason we are ignorant of Him is because of our hardness against Him. Therefore, no one comes to Jesus on his own free will. I did not come to Jesus because something within me chose to do so. I had plenty of free will; oh, yes, I chose what I wanted to do and did it, if possible. But nothing within me wanted God. Therefore, in my free will, I chose anything but God. I mean, if you want vanilla ice cream with sprinkles for dessert you don’t go to the dessert bar and fix yourself chocolate cake, do you?

I do know this: one day I began to kind of “flirt” with all that God stuff. I felt drawn to it. This went on for several months. I became more and more attracted to that kind of life, until one day, I realized there was this new commitment in me. I didn’t want to go back to the old ways of living and I desired for God to protect me from that lure. Jesus said that . . .”No one comes . . . unless the Father . . .draws him.” He also said that the Spirit is free and blows where He wills. What has this to do with my experience? God drew me; the Holy Spirit blew into my heart and changed my desires! He even gave me the ability to repent: to turn from my old ways, my wicked ways, and embrace God’s way. John Piper puts repentance this way:

Once hostile to God, now in love with Him.
Once the cross seemed foolish, now it is precious.
Once trusted in self to achieve happiness/security – now despair of self and look to

Christ for hope and joy.

Before God changes a person on the inside, he is incapable of enjoying Him, of appreciating His good gifts, of true worship. Oh, he may portray this on the outside, but it is the inside that counts and it is the inside that God looks at. There is no true joy in God. But when God changes him, He enables Him to obey His commands, including that of rejoicing in Him.

Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as you command and command me to do what you will! . . . O holy God . . . when Your commands are obeyed, it is from You that we receive the power to obey them. Augustine

Saturday, July 02, 2005

What a Gracious Father I Have

I am preparing for the new homeschool year, and one of the fun and challenging jobs that goes along with this is choosing and buying curriculum. I buy some of my curriculum on the "Swap & Sell" board at The Well-Trained Mind website. Not only do I get used books, etc., at discounted prices but it is a great help to sell to other moms who are trying to prepare for their families also. I sent a money order to a mom 11 days ago. She notified me 2 days ago she still had not received it. I went to the post office and the postmistress advised me to wait a couple more weeks in case the envelope had been "missent." In the back of my mind I was kind of holding my breath, becoming a little anxious, but then it kind of faded. I wrote to the mom and asked if she would wait a little longer.

It is only God's grace that I didn't become anxious and worried and then mad (my usual tendency). I have to credit Him. He is so kind to me. And, lo and behold, this gracious Father had a gift for me this morning: the mom e-mailed me to say that the MO had arrived! And it had indeed been missent. Mailed from Georgia to Massachusetts it went via San Diego, California!

Thank you, Father, for looking after me! Isn't He good!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Call to Fight for Joy

The struggle to submit . . . is not a struggle to submit but a struggle to accept and with passion. I mean, possibly with Joy. Flannery O’Connor

A. Taking God’s Demand for Delight Seriously
1. Having a spiritual taste for Christ’s glory is not morally neutral!
2. Not to have this taste is evil and deadly.
3. Not to see and savor Christ is an insult to the beauty and worth of His character.
4. Preferring anything above Christ is the very essence of sin.
B. The Essence of Evil
1. My people have committed two evils: (Jer. 2:13)
a. they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters. . .
(1) God is a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water
(2) To glorify this fountain we are to:
~enjoy it
~praise it
~keep coming back to it
~point others to it
~get strength from it
~never prefer any drink over this water
b. and have hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
(1) They have put the perfections of God’s water to their soul’s tongue and disliked it!
(2) They have craved the suicidal cisterns of the world.
(3) This is a double insult to God and is the essence of evil.
2. The ultimate evil – esteeming God less than anything.

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11

C. Heaven Hangs on Having the Taste of Joy in God
1. Fighting for Joy – our eternal life depends on it.
2. To the person who has no taste for enjoying Christ:
a. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. I Cor. 16:22.
b. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Mt. 10:37
c. Loving Jesus (not deciding for, choosing, or committing to) is the mark of a true child of God.
3. Love for Christ is NOT identical to mental or physical acts done in obedience to His Word!

If you love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15

a. FIRST there is the love
b. THEN there is the effect of love: obedience
4. Crisis of the Soul

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

a. When we love the light, we:
(1) have fellowship of Christ
(2) desire for His wisdom
(3) run to His refuge
(4) have gladness in His grace
(5) delight in who He is.
b. When we prefer darkness, we have no love for Him and we are accursed.
5. Loving Christ involves delight in His Person.

This section in the chapter was radical to me. For so long I had heard, or at least I think I heard, that love is an action. We show love by doing. And I still believe this. Real love is shown through our actions. I had gotten the cart before the horse. The love has to be there, and the love is real. I have to stop and take stock in my relationship with Christ. Do I love Him? The works I do should be an outpouring of love, but first there is the love. And this is a true emotion and there is nothing wrong with the emotion: it’s okay to feel it. When I don’t feel it, I don’t stop acting upon it but in faith, continue in the works.

D. Faith Also Includes the Taste for Joy in God
1. Faith and joy are NOT equivalent
a. Faith is banking upon Christ for righteousness and sacrifice
b. But it is not LESS than delight in Christ Himself.
2. 2 Cor. 4:4 . . . seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
a. Satan wants to hide this glory from the eyes of our hearts.
b. However, it is not just the facts he wants to hide, but the beauty of the facts.
3. Believing in Him includes a taste for the living water.
a. There may be temporary straying from Him.
b. True Faith never forsakes Him for the world’s cisterns.
4. Believing in Him also means trusting Him as our all-surpassing Treasure
5. God’s aim is to glorify His Son.
a. If we follow Jesus because of His great gifts or because of His terrible threats, He is not glorified.
b. Following Him is to be rooted in His glorious Person.
c. Christ’s works are great because He is great.
d. Unless His works point us to Him as our greatest delight, they become idols.

We have such a tendency to get the gifts before the Giver. We have such a tendency to pervert whatever God does or gives. As born idolaters we must be on the alert against this. It is so easy for us to get confused, to let our eyes slip down from the glory of the Giver and to become focused on what He gives. There are those who get so caught up in “doing” church right, they forget the One they have come to worship. There are those who want so badly to be able to counsel others in the faith or to have a word for the church or a fellow Christian, that their eyes are really no longer on their Lord, but on themselves! And we don’t even realize it. We have become like Simon the sorcerer of Samaria in Acts chapter 8, poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. The only freedom we have from this is looking to Jesus and, upon seeing His glory, repenting of this sin.

E. The Call to Fight for This
1. Faith is to be fought for if it is to survive.
2. Faith is what satan targets.
F. What We Have Lost in the Western Church
1. People don’t believe that their eternal life depends on the pursuit of joy in Christ.
2. The person who fights for joy in pain of loss successfully endures the trial and receives the crown of eternal life.
3. Today, people do not believe that anything significant is at stake.
4. The good fight of faith is the fight for joy.
G. It is a Good Fight, because:
1. The enemy of our soul is evil.
2. We are not left to our own strength.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil. 2:12-13

3. It is not a struggle to carry a burden but a struggle to let a burden be carried for us.
4. It does not involve self-exaltation, but self-humbling:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

We cannot even rejoice apart from Christ!
5. God is greatly glorified by the fight, therefore it is good:
a. God is exalted when we devote ourselves to resisting the idolatrous power of every craving or pleasure.
b. Fighting against “alien joy” shows we know the infinite worth of God.

Here is that both/and situation. John has taken a much abused and misunderstood passage of Scripture (Ph. 2:12-13) and shown it’s real intention. The fight for the faith involves our working out what God Himself has put in us. We fight, responsibly, because of His enablement. Our abiding in Him and His abiding in us gives us what we need to carry out what we are responsible for doing.

H. Paul’s Ministry involved Working for Our Joy!
1. 2 Cor. 1:24 . . . but we work with you for your joy.
2. Phil. 1:25 – I know I will remain with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.
I. Do Fighting and Joy Go Together?
1. Joy happens in the heart spontaneously
2. Joy is not in the power of the will.
3. Joy is a free gift, yet we are responsible to have it!
4. One reason we experience Joy in God spontaneously is because it is a gift.
5. So how do we fight for something that is spontaneous?
a. The Fight itself is a Gift
(1) God works in us to enable us to fight.
(2) God’s grace makes our work possible
(3) God’s work in us does not eliminate our work, but enables it.
b. We fight to put ourselves in the God-ordained path of blessing.
(1) This does not coerce God to give the blessing:
(a) It’s not a wage we can earn.
(b) It’s not according to our timetable.
(2) We are like farmers:
(a) We plant, hoe and fertilize.
(b) God brings it to maturity.
(c) We do not coerce this – there are times when the crops fail
(d) God brings us through the lean season!
(3) In obedience to God’s Word, we fight to walk in the paths of blessing but when and how they come is His decision.
c. We fight to see!
(1) Seeking the glory of Christ in the Gospel awakens joy.
(2) Joy magnifies Christ’s work.
(3) Satan’s chief work is to block our view of Christ’s glory.
(4) Therefore, our fight for joy is mainly a fight to see Christ.
(a) Joy from seeing is spontaneous no matter how hard we fight to see it.
(b) Fighting does not cause the joy – seeing does.
(c) There is no coercion: no one stands before a beautiful sunrise and says how hard he worked to get up early and the sunrise owes him this happiness by its bright colors.
(5) Fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace:
(a) I have fought the good fight.
(b) Not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
(c) Our joy will be greater if we see Christ as giving both the joy and the strength to fight for it.

God owes us nothing. Why, He has already freely given His children everything! But He owes us nothing. He did not owe us salvation but by the kindness of His will He has given it to His children. He is a Father to us, an example of true fatherhood to earthly fathers (not the other way around!). As a perfect heavenly Father, all that He does with us, to us and through us is good. We need to be thankful for the fight of the day, thankful for the grace given to stand and fight and thankful for the outcome of that day. We must understand that whatever happens and whatever the results, they are for our good. This trust in His goodness is a reflection back to Him of His glory. When we see Him as He is, as He has shown us in His Word, and we meditate Him and the goodness He has wrought in our lives, we will find contentment. There is true joy in thankfulness to our good Father.