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ORD L. MORROW
Rev. Ord Morrow was a Bible Teacher, associate minister and conference speaker on Back to the Bible in the 1960s and 1970s with Theodore Epp.
Ord Morrow is also the author of Straight Thinking About Spiritual Growth, Straight Thinking About God, Poems for Sunshine and Shadow, and many other publications, as well as Teen Talks From the Studio: Bible Talks Given By Theodore H. Epp, Ord L. Morrow and G. Christian Weiss on the Back to the Bible Youth Broadcast.
It is important to remember that God is always at work in this world! There is as much hope for revival today as there was in any time past. Below you will find a message from Rev. Morrow titled Chosen and Peculiar People, as well as an excerpt from his book Straight Thinking About Spiritual Growth that calls people to overcome life’s circumstances to minister to those needing Jesus.
Straight Thinking About Spiritual Growth
Ord L. Morrow
(Published by Back to the Bible, 1977, over 75,000 copies in print.)
Miserable or Ministering Christians
There is no doubt that our Christian weaknesses have caught up with us. Our lack of teaching, of training and of faith shows in nearly every aspect of our lives. We were meant to be the salt of the earth; but, having lost our savor, we are virtually worthless (see Matt. 5:13). We were meant to minister to a sick world, but we find ourselves somewhat sick, as the Church of Laodicea illustrates (see Rev. 3:14-19). We seem to have more miserable Christians than ministering Christians. In this day of number-conscious Christians, more are counted than count.
We are not looking for supersaints, however. Our aim is to be Christians who minister to the needs about us. We need Christians whose lives make a daily impact right where they are. If you are a miserable Christian, you are not alone. Several books of the New Testament were written to encourage Christian living; they instruct and challenge believers to a life of joy and victory. Paul reminded the Colossians that they had been delivered out of the power of darkness (misery) and had been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (see Col. 1:13). Jesus spoke to the disciples: “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1). He must have noticed that their hearts were heavy and troubled, and He wanted to lift them to a new plane of living.
The Devil’s business is to make and keep us miserable. He knows a miserable Christian will not minister much help. The Devil, so Peter tells us, “As a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour [consume, overwhelm, discourage, depress, burden down with care]” (1 Pet. 5:8). Our only hope of overcoming is to resist the Devil steadfastly in the faith, remembering that his attacks on us are nothing new. All Christians are subject to the Devils’ attack. We must remember that our very name—“Christian”—is a challenge to the Devil. The Devil is not dumb, and he takes advantage wherever he can.
Some Christians have believed his first lie—that God does not really want us to be happy. Was this not his approach to Eve? His taunt was that God did not want her to eat of the fruit because He knew that she would become like a god (see Gen. 3:5). He implies that God is holding back on us. To you and me the Devil does not say we will be gods. But he suggests we look around and notice how everybody except us is having loads of fun. “You poor Christians,” he says in effect. “You can’t do this, and you can’t do that!” We need to challenge the Devil and make him submit a list of things we lost when we surrendered to the Saviour. Who is kidding whom? We gained eternal life and all spiritual blessings and lost nothing but our sin, guilt, and lost condition.
If you will not accept the Devil’s first lie, he will try another on you. He loves to suggest that God does not care for you, for if He did, He would surley not let those difficult and frustrating things happen to you. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, the Devil will leer at you, saying, “See, I told you so. God does not care.” Right here, many Christians make a fatal mistake. They try to explain everything that God allows to happen. They think they will put the Devil in his place by reasoning why God did this or that. This is no time for a discussion with the Devil, this is the time to trust in God’s goodness. Now we know in part; now we see as in a dim mirror (see 1 Cor. 13:12). There is no way we can explain everything which happens to us.
Job could not explain why things happened as they did (see Job 21). Asaph, the sweet singer of Israel, admitted he was envious of the foolish when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. He simply could not understand why God’s people were often plagued while the wicked escaped trouble (see Ps. 73). Habakkuk did not understand how God could look on as people dealt treacherously and hold his tongue when the wicked devoured the righteous (see Hab. 1:13).
We have to remember the time in which we live. The Devil offered the Lord all the kingdoms of the world, and the Lord turned them down (see Luke 4). This is not the day of the personal reign of Christ. Conflict comes now; the kingdom comes later. It is a mistake to equate success with Christianity. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be able to explain everything and be an instant success—this is a 20th-century fallacy. Today the cross, tomorrow the crown! So our answer to the Devil’s sneer that God does not care for us or love us is found in 1 John 4:90: “in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
Another problem which plagues us and adds to our misery is the profit motive. How much does it pay? Peter represented us all when he asked what he and the other apostles were to get since thy had left all and followed the Lord (see Matt. 19:27). The Devil uses this profit motive to keep us miserable: I work so hard and get so little; I have been faithful; I have served God as best I can. The rewards seem to be slow in coming, and the Devil wants to know why.
Malachi walked among his people and heard them grumbling about this very thing: “Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hoss? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered” (Mal. 3:14,15).
If you want to keep your heart right and your thoughts sound, read carefully God’s answer to those profit seekers: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not: (vv. 16-18).
Those who think all the rewards or judgments of the Lord are in this life are sadly mistaken. Malachi reminds us we must not be taken in by the profit motive but must see things from another point of view—the one we will have when the Lord makes up his jewels.
If the Devil should fail to make you miserable with the profit motive, he will hit you with those wasted years of your life. If only you had not done those wicked things! If only you had done the things you knew you should have done! The Devil is a master a causing a fearful mind. Remember, the second recorded words of man are “I was afraid” (Gen. 3:10). We can be fearful slaves of the past, the present or the future. We can be afraid of failure, of competition and of opinions. Carnal fear is being afraid to do what we know we should. It is a fear of group opinion and occurs especially when our motivation is from without rather than from within, or from God.
When Paul said we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (see II Cor. 2:11), he evidently meant that we are to think through his approaches and know how to handle them. Yet how many of us know how to handle our feelings? There is no area where the Devil strikes so severely as in our feelings. We all have feelings, and feelings are not sinful in themselves. We cannot command our feelings as we can our wills. Feelings vary with a great many things. An introvert and an extrovert will seldom feel the same way about anything, though both may be Christians. Illness has a deep effect on the total feeling of a person. Our backgrounds play a great part in our feelings. Our emotional stability, our denominational background, our nationality, our race and even the weather play a part in how we may feel about anything.
If you want to be miserable, just let your feelings take over. Soon you will feel that others do not like you, and a thousand things will build up because of that feeling. People are sure something terrible is going to happen—they feel it! The Devil has them on the run. The Christian who give in to his feelings will minister little that will be of help. He will constantly be seeking some word to soothe his feelings. But someone will always have a word to keep those feelings upset. The just, if they are to minister, are to live by faith, not by feeling.
While we cannot complete the catalog of the Devil’s devices, let me mention one more: bitterness. Paul reminded us that the Devil takes advantage of an unforgiving spirit (see vv. 10,11). James warned against bitterness (James 3:14,15). Hebrews 12:15 commands a diligent search of heart lest any root of bitterness spring up to cause trouble and defilement. Colossians 3:19 warns husbands not to be bitter against their wives, and Ephesians 4:31 says that bitterness must be put away. Is it any wonder the Devil works diligently at keeping some bitterness working among the saints?
If we find ourselves to be miserable Christians, we are faced with a choice—either we go on the way we are going, or we find a cure for our misery. Either we go on in our selfish way, nursing our feelings and our imagined wounds, or we move on in the things of the Lord where blessings flow from our lives.
To find a cure for our miseries we must be sure we have settled the matter of forgiveness. This means we accept God’s forgiveness and forgive those who have sinned against us. A doctor once said that if he could assure his patients of forgiveness, he could dismiss half of them. Do not take the matter of forgiveness lightly; it is not easy to forgive and forget those things which are behind us. It is, however, part of the cure for a miserable life. David was right when he said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Ps. 32:1,2).
The ministering Christian must learn to avoid feeding his feelings. Some people complain that they are very sensitive, that their feelings are easily hurt. Of course! In this we are all brothers! To avoid feeding our feelings we must not constantly talk of the hurts we have received in the past. We must not allow our minds to dwell on them but must keep them busy with better things. It will help greatly if we can remember not to believe everything everyone tells us about ourselves or about others. Let us learn to think of ourselves as Romans 12:3 teaches: “For I say,… to every may that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
In thinking about others, let us learn from Romans 12:17,19-21: “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men…. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengence is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink…. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The Christian who wants to minister in this life must learn to rejoice in the Lord. The Lord does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (see Heb. 13:8). Rejoicing in the Lord gives a solid foundation from which to operate, for He is not moved by circumstance, people, the weather or feelings. Rejoicing in the Lord does not mean we become hypocrites, saying one thing when we think another. It is not trying to act as if nothing had happened. To rejoice in the Lord is simply to acknowledge with God that things are not what they seem to be at all. Things are certainly not what we feel they are. Things are surely not what the Devil says they are.
To delight ourselves in the Lord also means that we acknowledge His Word to be true, His ways to be right and His will to be ours. We regain the wonder of being a child of our heavenly Father. We know He cannot fail, even though all else does fail. We know that, in spite of everything, out of the believing life, will flow rivers of living water (see John 7:38). No longer are we to be miserable Christians but ministering Christians.
The Christian who wants to minister must take up his cross and follow the Lord (see Luke 14:27). This means the end of following the crowd or your own way. To put it simply, it means putting God first in all things. This will not be easy. It is easier to talk of the crucified life than to live it. To take up our cross means that we will have no confidence in our own abilities but will have total confidence in the Lord Himself. It will surely mean some inconvenience to ourselves. When our Lord used the cross as a symbol of dealing with the self-life, He certainly did not intend to convey to us the idea of something easy. It is like dying. But the Christian who takes his position with Christ in death and resurrection will be the ministering Christian.
Dwelling on what you are in Christ will help cure your miseries. We have been forgiven, pardoned, brought into His family and made a part of His Bride. Think of it! “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).
The ministering Christian must learn to fight the good fight of faith. We are to be overcomers in this life. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-16: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
The ministering Christian will settle in his mind once and for all that God is God. Things are not beyond His understanding and control. God is not at His wit’s end. There is no panic in God’s plan. Things move to a climax when and where He chooses. Remember, if God is God and if He is your God and if He has declared His love for you, and since He cannot lie, things are not what they appear to be. There is no other way we can explain Romans 8:23: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” A thousand things happen every day which are beyond our comprehension; we simply know God is God, and we rest everything there.
The ministering Christian must take care to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The full vessel has no room for other things. If Christ is filling the life, there is no room for bitterness, no room for self-pity, no room for hurt feelings and no room for grudges. The Christ-life rejects all these simply because there is no room for them. The heart is free to minister because Christ is all in all. “Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Cor. 1:30,31). The ministering Christian will surrender to Christ as Lord. Christ will be all he needs, and Christ will use the surrendered vessel to minister to many. You can depend on it.
Chapter portion from Straight Thinking About Spiritual Growth, by Ord L. Morrow, published by Back to the Bible in 1977.
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