Thursday, May 25, 2017

At the End of the Day

The little English idiom used in our title means, “In conclusion.” Or as I would put it, “When all's said and done, how's it gonna end?”

Using the theaters vernacular, the question would be phrased something like this, “In the last act, after the final scene, when the curtain comes down, what are you going to do?

Let’s face it; most Christian’s answer is the same as the woman who was stepping out on her husband. When asked where she thought it would all end, her reply was, “I really haven’t thought that far ahead.”

I don’t know about others, but at the end of the day, I want to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And to accomplish this, I have to be busy now, in the present, making sure it comes to pass up the road.       

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When the Colors Run Together

What does one do when the colors of life seem to run together; when doctrines and  you’ve held for a life-time appear to have lost their distinction? Like John the Baptist, you become uncertain of what you have always held as being certain? When your dogmatism, if you please, ends up in the doghouse?

Well, I’ll tell you what I do at such times; I immediately come back to my foundation. This “Sure Foundation” is the only thing in my life I am truly sure of. When the top floors of my life begin to sway, I hurry back down that long flight of stairs to my settled, solid, and unmovable foundation. It is here I get my sure footing once again.

My dear friends, build your life as high as you’re capable; but remember the Foundation upon which you have built it. Forgetting will only bring everything we’ve built down in shambles, so that we might be reminded of Him who is the True Foundation of our life and ministry.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  (I Cor.3:11)

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Sheep's Nature

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” It’s a sheep’s nature to stray. If any so-called deeper life Christian tells you otherwise mark it down, you’re listening to a shallow person. An old preacher friend of mine used to say of this sort, “They’re not deep, they’re just muddy.”

The song that says, “Coming home…never more to roam,” may be a good sentiment, but it’s not scriptural. The Christian life from start to finish is a process of returning. We may not show external signs of going away from the Lord, but God knows we do in our hearts. Speaking of His elect in the book of Isaiah, He says, “[They] have removed their heart far from me.” We all have prodigal hearts.

Daily, God has to call unto us, "Return unto me…" It’s a wonderful thing to return home from a hog pen and find a hot meal awaiting you. And then, to have the bath water run for us, with the fluffy towels laid out, is more than one can imagine.

But the climax is when the Father tucks us into our bed, between clean white sheets, then kisses us on the forehead, saying, “I’m glad you have returned home, child.” It is then and only then that our wayward souls find true rest.

My friend, if you can go away and stay away, it’s doubtful you ever had a home and Father to return to.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

God's Plan for Each of His Children

Acts 12:1, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2, And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3, And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also...4, And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him...5, Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him...11, Peter... said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod.”

A FATHER AND HIS CHILDREN

It’s a wise father who deals with each of his children individually, according to their personal needs. The saying, “One size fits all,” is not true in a family. True generally, but not specifically.   

JAMES AND PETER

I heard a camp meeting preacher once say, “James died and Peter lived because the church prayed for Peter.” Such speculation is unfounded. The main characteristic of the early church was prayer.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES, NOT PARTICULAR PEOPLE

It is a dangerous norm to follow someone else's life in every detail. Whether it be great saints of the past or even Biblical biographies. Elijah was caught up to heaven, Elisha died of his sickness.

EACH HAS HIS OR HER OWN CROSS

Some crosses are made of velvet, still others of rough materials. But they all have one thing in common: they crucify the bearer. The rich with the invalid child, and the healthy, but poor man.

THERE SHOULD BE NO GUILT TRIPS FOR ANY OF US

None should lament the fact they are not in the same position as another brother or sister, whose lot is seemingly worse than their own. “Man looketh on the outward appearance.”

EYE HATH NOT SEEN

There are those who would gladly suffer in his brother or sister’s place, if they could only rid themselves of that deep, unseen, agony of soul, they’ve suffered their whole lifelong!

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”





Saturday, May 20, 2017

HE STOLE MY HEART

“…and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure…” The song writer said it best when he penned, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” The word “amazed” is found often in the Gospels, and is usually related to Jesus, either directly or indirectly. It’s definition is “filled with great surprise, astonishment, or wonder.”

The Christian should live in perennial amazement at who Jesus is and what He does. I never cease to be amazed at God’s people, who are no longer amazed. You can always tell when one has lost the wonder of it all; it shows in every area of his or her life. In their fellowship, singing, preaching, yes, and especially in their lifeless, formal prayers.

The old evangelist, Gypsy Smith, when in his eighties, was asked how he had managed to keep his freshness over the long years he had served the Lord. His reply was simply, “I guess it’s because I’ve never lost the wonder of it all.”

"Since He looked upon me, my heart is not my own; He hath run away to Heaven with it."
— Samuel Rutherford

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jesus and Family Squabbles

“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?  (Lk. 12:13)

FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE

You couldn’t get Jesus involved in family squabbles. He knew, as the old saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water.” Our Lord minded His Father’s business, not others’ 

PERCHED ON THE WRONG END OF THE LIMB

Individual families have something going between them that the outsider, even loved ones, know nothing of. Husband and wife, siblings, mothers and fathers, married children, have a way of working things out, without our expertise. Invaratably the busybody finds himself or herself on the wrong end of the limb. When it is sawed off, the two parties get back together, but both, with disgust, remember your meddling. Such situations do not heal quickly. Some never do. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where Peace Is To Be Found

“HE IS OUR PEACE”

LOOKING IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

Peace is not to be found in a pill, pleasure, or playthings. Real, true, legitimate peace is to be found only is a PERSON! Lasting peace is found in a lasting PERSON, not in perishable things.

THE WORLD’S PEACE

The world has a peace it offers, but it is only cosmetic. Like everything else they offer, it is painted on. It is superficial. A cheap whitewash, if you please. Moses told God’s elect, “Thou shalt not seek their peace.” Why? because when they say, “Peace, peace, there is no peace...the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

OUR ELDER BROTHER’S BEQUEATHAL

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” His peace is greater than all this world's troubles and fears. Where they abound, His peace doth much more abound!

STORMS AND PEACE

Like a buoy, we may be tossed to and fro in the storm, but in the depth of our souls there is tranquility. For like the buoy, we have an unseen anchor.“We have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”

OUR TRIUNE GOD’S COVENANT OF PEACE

Our peace is to be found in the eternal Godhead, FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST. We are told of our Father, He is the God of peace; of the Son, He is our peace; and of the Spirit,  His fruit is peace.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Things My Mother Taught Me

She was ninety-four when she went to her Heavenly Zion. She was from a long line of Kentucky stock, a real thoroughbred, who had Cherokee blood in her veins. My father ran off and left us when I was just a boy, and my sister, having married at seventeen, during the 2nd World War, pretty much left Mom and me on our own. We lived in one flop house after another, sometimes sharing the bath with three or four other families. It got rough at times, but as a young tow-headed boy, I always felt secure with this woman who was character incarnate. I knew I could depend on her to be there and take care of me. I was her number one concern!

It says of King Lemuel, “His mother taught him.” And so did mine teach me, some important lessons about life. Three stand out above all others. The first indelible truth was ingrained in me when I once asked her why she scrubbed other people’s floors and cleaned their toilets for a living. Her reply, as always, was a simple one, but it had a profound effect upon me. Said she, “Son, someone has to do it.” In other words, she was one who, if asking herself the rhetorical question, “Why me?” came back with the answer, “Why not me.”

And then there was the time, in my unconverted days, when I was trying to run-away from myself. I was leaving Ohio for California, attempting to escape the town in which I lived, thinking that would change things. Again she had words of wisdom for me. “Honey, you’ll find things pretty much the same wherever you go.” She was right, as always. I learned a change in geography, doesn't bring a change in character.

And just before leaving for that land where one never grows old, but stays eternally young, she gave me her final bit of advice. I had asked her if she had any last words for me; and staring up at me with those hazel green eyes, from her bed she said, “Keep on doing what you’ve been doing all these years.” Well, I have been, and will, until I go to meet this woman to whom I owe, not only my first birth, but my second birth. The birth that guarantees we’ll live together forever. Not in a flop house, but a Mansion, for all eternity. PRAISE THE LORD!

Fix me one of your Kentucky meals Mom; I’ll be coming home in the near future!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rushing to Go Nowhere

...the king's business required haste.”  (1 Sam. 21:8)
“...he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isa. 28:16)

There is a vast difference in running for the King and running to go nowhere. If you run nowhere you're sure to get nowhere. Joab sent Cushi with a message for king David. Ahimaaz didn’t have one, yet he wanted to run anyway. He outran Cushi, but didn’t have anything to offer when he arrived. Therefore, the king told him to stand aside, while he listened to Cushi. The lesson learned from this is, “The race is not to the swift,” and, “The first shall be last.”

As Mary of old, we need to sit still until we hear the words, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee. It is when He commands that we are to, as they say, “Get a leg on.” Movement in itself doesn’t mean progress; look at a merry-go-round, if you doubt me. Israel went in circles for forty years. This age is characterized, as Daniel puts it, “[at] the time of the end: many shall run to and fro.” One old preacher said, “I don’t go anyplace any more. I spend all my time just dodging.” As God’s people, let’s not get caught up in the hurry and scurry of this frustrated world.

We are told of our Lord, “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” And of the maniac of Gadara, “[he] was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) One’s movement was for the the Glory of God. The other was for the purpose of the devil. WHO'S DRIVING YOUR VEHICLE?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Looking For Someone To Care

“To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend…Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends.” 

In spite of his passionate plea, this good man was shown little, if any pity from these “miserable comforters.” How self-righteous we can be at those times when we do not understand the “why” of another’s sufferings. Like Job’s acquaintances, we invariably tag onto them, “He must have sinned against God.”

But what Job could not find in others, in the end, he found in his God. In the inspired history of the old patriarch’s life, James records for us, “Ye have heard of…Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.”
If we are going to play God, let’s make sure we’re reading from the right script. In life’s divine drama, each of us has the same lines: “…be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

It’s a pitiful person indeed who will not show pity to another. (rds)

Monday, April 24, 2017

If Heaven Is Not Real

"If it were not so, I would have told you.” (Jn.14:2)
As my dear old mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins, used to say, “If it wasn't so, He’d have told us so.” Some say our Lord is only using a figure of speech, thinking it will lessen our hope. I say, if a figure, a figure of what? Even if true, the substance is greater than the shadow, and the object than the picture. I agree with C.S. Lewis. If what our Lord is saying is symbolic language, then He is attempting to express the inexpressible to us. WOW! How much greater then, will heaven be?

The atheist, who is all dressed up with no place to go, takes it a step further. He holds there is no heaven. The pagans of old would disagree with this pseudo-enlightened, intellectual dunce. The ancient Eskimo believed there was a land awaiting him where he would sit down and eat his whale blubber to the full. The American indian spoke of a happy hunting ground, he would enter at death. And the Egyptians were buried with their treasures, believing they’d take with them into the next world.

Think of it, if there is no heaven, Jesus lied to His followers. This means we’ll never see our loved ones again; we don’t have a home to go to. We’ll be eternally homeless, wandering the streets of nowhere. And in this life we’ll be miserable, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1Cor.15:19)

But, thank God, in spite of the lack of preaching today on heaven, and the difficulty of finding a good contemporary book on the subject, along with the muted songs about this place we saints call home, this doesn’t void it. We, with father Abraham and all the elect through the ages, are also looking for that City whose builder and maker is God. And as my dear wife has sung for years, upon entering it, we all will say, “Finally Home!”

“I believe in Heaven. If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me; let me dream on.” (Evangelist D.L. Moody)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Assurance the Beloved is Yours

"My beloved is mine, and I am his...Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.” (Song 2:16-17)

An old time preacher taught his son to know a thing, and then to know you know it. This is primarily what John teaches in his little book of 1 John chapter 2 verse 3. “And hereby we do know that we know Him

Many professing Christians have problems with assurance that the Lord is theirs during times of darkness. From the above text we see one will never know the former till the latter is settled. You will know the Beloved is truly yours when the Beloved knows you are truly His! The same principle is seen in the life of the Man Christ Jesus, when He said, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine. (John 17:10). God had all of Him and He had all of God.

Divided allegiance always brings doubts. Those who sing “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine,” with confidence, are those who can truthfully say, “He has all there is of me. There is nothing left to give.”

God revealing Himself to the individual Christian generally has to do with how much of that man or woman God  possesses! May we say to our heavenly KING, the greater than David, what Amasai said to his earthly king, David. “Then the spirit came upon Amasai... and he said, Thine are we, David.” (1 Chron.12:18) That is, as the song says, “I am thine O Lord.”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Golden Rule...of Prayer

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12)

The Golden Rule, as it has come to be known, is well known, especially, throughout Christendom. But any truthful observer will have to admit, it is practiced by few. Most adhere to Samson’s rule. “As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.” (Judges 15:11)

The simple reason God’s Golden Rule has not been implemented in our lives is because we are self-centered, rather than Christ-Centered. If a person or thing does not revolve around us. If it or they, do not touch some area of our lives, if we do not benefit, there is little, or no concern from us.

Years ago, while interceding in prayer for someone, I was impressed with a life changing thought. I’ve tried my dead level best to follow through with it, though I have fallen short at times. The thought I had was, if I applied the Golden Rule to my prayer life, then my prayer life would be revolutionized. And it was!

My Golden Rule...of prayer is: “PRAY FOR OTHERS, AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM PRAY FOR YOU.” As the prophet of old said, “I sat where they sat. How would you want people to pray for you if it were your wayward child, your broken health, your financial dilemma, your overpowering habit, your Satanic temptation, or your crumbling family? The list is innumerable. What we’re speaking of is life.

How we need to heed the words of the writer of Hebrews, addressing the early suffering Hebrew Christians. “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Heb. 13:2) Pray for them the way you want them to pray for you, when your time of trial comes.

Paul sums up for us what the Christian’s philosophy in prayer should be, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Christ, Historically and Heavenly Viewed

I realize I have written much on the following subject, but as Peter said to his readers, “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”

Every modernistic theologian, as well as the secular world, along with cults and isms, makes much ado about the historic Christ, as found in the gospels. When attempting to prove their point they’re noticeably consistent in avoiding the Pauline epistles, which puts the emphasis on the heavenly Christ. True, you cannot have one without the other, for each necessitates the other.  But just as true is progressive revelation. The new is enfolded in the old, but the old is unfolded in the new.

Now we can understand Paul’s statement, “though we have known Christ after the flesh (historically), yet now henceforth know we [Him] no more.” It is no longer the historic Christ, as important as this might be, but the heavenly Christ we are to give our attention to. As long as Christians worship a babe, they themselves will remain one. The days of His flesh are ended (Heb.5:7). Or as my pastor friend in Canada brought to my attention, we must get past the veil of His flesh, if we are to find and know God.

It is in Paul’s writings alone we learn the truths pertinent to how we, in this church age, are to live. Paul’s revelation is what Jesus wanted to say while here on earth but couldn’t. He told His disciples they were not ready, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

Therefore, let me challenge each saint, not to be remiss in reading Paul’s letters. Read and re-read them often. They were written particularly with you in mind!  
All the Bible is for us, but not all of it is to us, or about us.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Bound Resurrected Life

What good is a resurrected life if you’re still bound in grave clothes? Lazarus could attest to this truth. Jesus preformed the miracle of giving Lazarus life but used others as the means of loosing him from his bondage. Every Believer’s ministry is to emancipate, not enslave. “Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Far too many saints are in a straitjacket. We need to be cautious that we do not put a “restricted” sign on things God has not prohibited. Everything that is not specifically spelled out as sin in the scriptures comes under the label of liberty.

We are told, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Paul taught this principle when he told young Timothy, if it was of God then it was good, and that nothing was to be refused, if received with thanksgiving. True, under this heading some can, and others cannot; but these sensitive decisions are to be left entirely up to the Spirit-filled believer and their God (Ro.14).

My son, Andrew, has an article entitled, “Only God Gets to Define Sin.” Let us be careful not to replace our man-made tag for God’s. I think Peter put it best at the first Church council when he said, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” Or as my mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins, used to say, “Never put more of a burden on a man than he already has.”