Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Wayward Children

Is it not a great comfort and encouragement knowing our heavenly Father can relate to our grief and pain in having wayward children? His first son, Adam (Lk. 3:38 b), who had everything a child could desire, went astray. Later on, His other children (Israel), though brought up and nourished by this loving, and literally perfect Father, rebelled against Him. It is so sad that those from whom He should find the most comfort, He found the most grief. And isn't this the testimony of many a godly parent? Is not our cry that of Job of old, "Oh that I were as in months past...when my children were about me"?

He understands what it is like to have a child who once "panted after God" (Psa. 42:1), who now "pants after the dust of the earth" (Amos 2:7). One who prefers a filthy hog sty over his or her father's house, comfortable and clean. How longsuffering He was to many of us, the parents of prodigals, when we also traveled the road our children are now on. And those mothers and fathers who did not journey into "the far country," could have and would have, but for the grace of God. 

The best advice I could give a godly parent with a godless child, is to pray and be patient. Remembering Naomi's wise council to Ruth, "Sit still... until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing..." As in the book of Esther, although God is not mentioned, He works behind the scenes. And so He does in the life of our children. His promise still holds true, "And he shall turn the heart...of the children to their fathers." Or as one old divine put it, "We can lay the wood together, but God must make it burn."

"When thy child is going full sail to the devil, God can blow with a contrary wind of His Spirit, and alter his or her course."
(Puritan Saying)  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Obscure Life

To many Christians, an obscure life means an obsolete life. We all are prone to think public figures are the only ones greatly used of God. This is because what they do can be seen by all. When will we ever wake up to the truth God generally does His best work behind closed doors? When we pray, it is to be behind closed doors. The widow was told to "shut the door upon thee and thy sons," when the miracle of the oil was multiplied. Elisha also, when raising the young child, we are told, "...went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD."

The following are some quotes by Oswald Chambers: "The curse in Christian work is that we want to preserve ourselves in God's museum"; "God buries His men (and women) in the midst of paltry things, no monuments are erected to them"; "It takes Almighty God Incarnate in you to peel potatoes properly, and to wash heathen children for the glory of God"; "Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity"; "Remain true to God in your obscurity, and remember you are not the designer of your destiny"; " It takes Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator."

The most important part of our life is that part that only God can see."

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Freshly Slain Lamb

After the resurrection, in His new glorified body, our Lord still carried the fresh wounds of Calvary. If there be any doubt of this just ask "doubting" Thomas. At His Second Coming back to earth, He will be asked, "What are these wounds in thy hands?" to which He answers, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." And today, at the Father's right hand, He unashamedly bears them. When John saw Him, in His present ministry as our intercessor, he gives us this description, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne...stood a Lamb as it had been slain." For over two-thousand years this "freshly slain" LAMB has been pleading on our behalf to His and our Father, to His and our God! 

Under the Old Testament economy, a freshly slain lamb, picturing the Lamb of God that would come someday, was offered up in both the morning and evening sacrifice. This continued for some fifteen-hundred years, until that eventful day, when the earthshaking cry was heard throughout eternity, "It is finished." This is what the writer of Hebrews referred to when he penned, "...when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." And again,"...this He did once, when He offered up Himself," And again, "...we are sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once for all." And once more, "But this Man, after He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

Is it any wonder then that this HIM BOOK (Hebrews) of the Bible gives us a divine invitation to, "Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain  mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." And wherein can we be so brazen as to approach a Holy God? The writer continues,
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new (fresh) and living way." Both now and throughout eternity, whenever we come to Him we will find a freshly slain Lamb. The song writer had it right when he wrote, "Before the Throne my surety stands, my name is written on His hands."

The High priest of the Old Testament did not inspect the one who offered up the Lamb, but the lamb itself, to see if it was"without spot and blemish."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Paul, Faith, and Mountains

"Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains..." It is plain Paul believed and took literally Jesus's statement in the Gospels concerning faith removing mountains. Just as clear is the fact that he did not believe he possessed such a faith. But studying his long and eventful life we see he used what faith he had.

And that faith got him through a lifetime of severe suffering; brought in needed supplies for both him and his; sustained him during lonely hours; comforted him when grief stricken at his friends' misunderstanding of him; kept him going when seemingly there was no human reason to keep going; and was sufficient at his end to get him through the valley of the shadows. Is not this kind of faith greater than moving a mountain?

Although I've used it at different times in my writings, I can't resist inserting one of my favorite quotes. I think it appropriate, it goes to the core of what I've been trying to say. It is by C.S. Lewis, "For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Distinctively Different

"And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification."

Our God is distinctively different from all the gods of the world. And He has made His people to be so from the world's children. "The LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." While the worldlings are busying themselves attempting to be "same-alikes" (my daughter Charity's term, when small), God's children are to be distinctively different. 

It is a sad day when Christian's emulate the world trying to be just like one another, forfeiting their God given special characteristics, in order to be to like the run-of the-mill. Those little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are, are what people use to identify us as separate from all others. In this "cookie-cutter age" it is hard to find those who "dare to be different."  

What saint does not recognize the voice of a Billy Graham or a George Beverly Shea? Yet today, for the most part, the pulpit ministry is without distinction, without signification. The same can be said of writers who had their own styles, as C.S. Lewis and A.W. Tozer. And even in the pews we find a horde of copycats, each not wanting to be themselves, but another.

Years ago, on a late night TV program I heard an impersonator do John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, and many more. The host asked the imitator to do some contemporary actors. He replied he couldn't, saying "Today's actors are all alike, there is nothing distinct about them." May each of us be readily picked out of a line-up.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Testimonies/Tread Lightly

We need to be very careful when giving our testimonies, as well as hearing or reading them. Even those found in the Holy Scriptures. They're for our learning, not necessarily for us to emulate. As an old divine once wrote, "We are to seek the apostles' teachings, not their experience." When we're told we should follow their example, it's generally in principle, not experience. 

Throughout my long tenure as a gospel preacher I have both heard and read quite a few testimonies that would curl your hair, as the saying goes. I found in my own case as a young believer, when I gave my personal testimony, as the audience became more awestruck , like the "blow-fish," my testimony got bigger and bigger. The flesh loves to wow people, and it seems many want it so.

Acts has twenty-eight chapters and covers some thirty years. The Holy Spirit records Paul's testimony once, and the "chief of sinners" gives it twice, publicly. He mentions bits and pieces in his personal letters to churches and individuals, but not in its entirety. That means Paul gave his testimony publicly two times in thirty years. It was not for general public consumption, it seems.This gentle giant of a man was not in the habit of calling attention to himself, but the ONE who saved him.

My wife was saved as a child of nine, and never experienced the ravages of sin in her life. On the other hand, I lived a life of sin and debauchery for twenty-four years. People would flock to hear my testimony, but not hers. Yet, she had the greatest of we two. 

New Book

Dear Readers of the Blog,

This past Spring, while I was recuperating from a heart attack and five by-passes, my wife flew to Kentucky/Ohio to speak at a Ladies conference and to visit her sisters. I was well on my way to recovery, and she needed a break from being a nurse.

During the weeks of her absence, the Lord laid heavily upon on my heart a desire to compile a yearly devotional book, as many of you through the years have requested I do. God gave strength and wisdom, and I finished it before her arrival home, praise His Name!

Today, Salle finished the long arduous task of proof reading and the rest of the many things that go into preparing a manuscript for publishing. Please pray we will be able to put it out before the first of the year. 

I have entitled it, Breakfast With the King. The three-hundred and sixty-five readings each consist of two brief paragraphs and a thought. You will be able, as our little booklet, Spilt Milkto purchase it at cost, plus mailing. You will order it direct from the publisher, NOT ME. This way I do not have to order a certain quantity in advance; they produce them as ordered. This will be a great help to us, in every way. We'll keep you updated on the progress. For now...

Please Pray,

Richard