Saturday, February 6, 2016

What’s Wrong With Just Being A Christian?

I guess when you come right down to it, times really haven't changed that much, especially in the religious arena. In Jesus' day, there were sects known as Pharisees, Sadducees, and a variety of others. You were readily accepted by any one of them if you claimed unquestioning allegiance and adhered to their doctrines.

Today, we have pretty much the same thing. There is Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Dispensationalism, and Reformed— all claiming to be just a little bit more right than the others. Within these groups, there is Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of God, and on and on. Any of these groups will accept you if you are willing to profess belief in their particular doctrines and loyalty to their group.

But, for someone to approach any one of these groups and say, "I am a Christian, I am Blood-bought, I believe in God's inspired Word, and I love all His ransomed children," is, for many, not sufficient. I am ashamed and embarrassed to tell you that they would be looked upon with dismay by some of these groups.

What a shame that there is no place in the ranks of some of the above mentioned groups for a man or woman who only goes by the name "Christian." It seems this name is not good enough for today's elite, enlightened, enslaved religionists. It might be well to remember that "the disciples were called Christians."

The word "Christian" has "Christ" in it; so do true Christians.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Walking Through the Valley

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”

Most call this, “The Shepherd’s Psalm.” Personally I like to refer to it as, “The Sheep’s Psalm.” The sheep is giving testimony to the goodness of his Shepherd. It’s the Shepherd being praised by the sheep. Not once does the Shepherd speak. The sheep loved to talk about his adoring Shepherd!

It is important to notice, David didn’t run through the valley. He didn’t fear for two reasons: first, he knew his Lord was with him. And secondly, he had sense to know a shadow never hurt anyone. Shadows only create images we conjure up in our own minds; that is, we manufacture the monsters.

Many among God’s elect make the mistake of the heathen in the Old Testament; “...the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys.” Our Shepherd always leaves the glory of the hilltop for the hurting in the valley. Ask the father of the devil-possessed son.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The High-Bar That's Too High

When teaching a novice athlete the high-jump, you dare not set the bar too low, making it an easy feat; nor ridiculously high, lest he or she be discouraged, not even attempting the jump. But it should be just beyond their reach, moving the bar higher after each successful clearance.

Some deeper-life preachers as well as Christian authors, especially biographers, set the horizontal bar for a godly life so high angels couldn’t clear it. I’ve read enough honest biographies, been behind closed doors with those who had a reputation for holiness, to know, “It just ain’t so!”

When a man or woman neglects his or her mate, takes little or no time with their children, and is incessantly alone in prayer and study, well, that man should have been a monk. Such should have never married. Their address should have been: 777 Monastery Road, Celestial City.

Godly men and women of the Bible all lived among men. They weren't hermits, but very much human! They walked amidst mankind, with all their idiosyncrasies, shortcomings, and yes, sins. Honest faults are forgivable; it is not so with facade.            

No one is impressed with a godliness that can’t be seen, a life lived under a basket, so to speak.

Friday, January 29, 2016

God's Been There and Back Again

“Declaring the end from the beginning…”

One of my grandsons, Joseph Habedank, is a gospel singer and songwriter. Joe, along with his mother, my daughter Leah, wrote a song entitled, “God’s Already There.” One of the lines in this blessed song says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God’s already there.”  

No child of God ever need worry what the future holds for him or her. God has gone ahead, so to speak, and arranged any and all events down to the smallest detail. He has been there and back again. We refer to it as “time travel.” Nothing has been left to chance. It is prepared providence!

When I was pastor in Florida many years ago, my oldest daughter had a little playmate who lived across the street from us. She was a talkative thing. One day, while I was working in the yard, she came over and began a conversation, during which time, I invited her to church. Her response was, “O, I been to your church!” I then asked when that was. She replied, “Hmmm, I was there...tomorrow.”

As the song says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God’s already there.”  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Main Ingredient

“…in all things [Christ] might have the preeminence.” Colossians is as relevant today as it was when first written. The false doctrines that had crept into this early Church have slithered into our contemporary assemblies. Eastern mysticism, Jewish legalism, and religious asceticism, along with the world’s philosophy and scientific astrology, had invaded that primitive band of believers, as they have our own.

And what was Paul’s answer to each of these heresies? The preeminence of Christ. Colossians is the answer to the so-called “New Age” movement. Christ is not one of many ingredients in God’s recipe for what ails us; He is the only ingredient. For we are 
“complete in him.” “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

The apostle teaches, the best way to confront error is to emphasize truth. Controversy has few converts. Paul did not waste his time in explaining each false doctrine, but in exalting Christ. He only refers to the errors of these false teachers in a general sense. He didn’t even take time to give us their origin, but simply made a passing reference to them, as he headed for the Head of the Church.

"The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Common Sense vs. Nonsense

Commonsense is defined as “sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge or training; normal, native intelligence.” To some extent, everyone is born with a certain amount of commonsense. Why, then, is it not manifested in more people today? No doubt the answer is found in the old, proverbial country saying, “He ain’t usin’ the brains God gave him!” In other words, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Since you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of a man or woman who thinks things through, the world, along with the religious con artists, must needs make light of such people. As a result of this intimidation, many no longer think for themselves, but cower in a corner, and let the pseudo-intellectuals do their mental gymnastics for them.

One area where Christians throw commonsense out the window has to do with the ascetic teaching and lifestyle of many groups today. The Bible teaches that self denial, and self mortification are individual things. It has to do with the person and his God. There are many legitimate things some saints cannot do, because, though not bad in themselves, they come between the individual and God. This type of self sacrifice is to be commended. But to want everyone else to give up something just because you can’t handle it is “phariseeism” at its worst. This is nonsense, not commonsense.

Abstinence from lawful things does not make one more spiritual than someone else; it only gives one the reputation for being so. But remember, God is not deceived by our religious externals.

“But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Delight in Drudgery

“The Lord working with them.” Daily duties can become daily drudgeries. But they can be transformed into delight when we put the Divine into them (1Cor.10:31). The test of spirituality is how we respond to those little, everyday, insignificant chores that are a necessary part of our lives.

Oswald Chambers says, “Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is.” He goes on to say, “Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards.” It’s amazing how our Lord always transfigures the common and ordinary when He touches it through one He possesses. Remember Moses’ rod?

When just a small boy I had an old worn baseball glove I longed to discard for a new one, and told my father so. I remember him saying, “Son, it’s not the glove, but the hand that is in it that makes the difference.” I think you get my meaning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Other-Side of Belief

  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

This is a favorite text of those who believe in baptismal regeneration. Saints who act before they think run to the Greek to explain their embarrassing problem, in spite of the fact they are English speaking and not a Greek.

An illustration will help here. Someone may say, “If you’ll get on the bus and sit down, you will go to Cincinnati.” But what if I get on the bus, but don’t sit down? Do I still arrive at my destination? The damned has to do with the unbelief.

Unbelief, for the sinner, is the only sin he or she can commit that will damn them eternally. But it has its effect upon the ‘unbelieving believer’ also. For the latter it has more to do with here than hereafter. Their tormented daily, as Lot.

The other side of belief is unbelief. And if the child of God chooses to live in such a state of disbelief, there awaits them a life of frustration and fruitlessness. You will not see God work in your life, or on your behalf for loved ones.

“And he could there do no mighty work...because of their unbelief.”   

Monday, January 18, 2016

Satan is no Atheist

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

Satan believes in one God (monotheism), not many gods (polytheism). And so do all his underlings. It goes without saying, the devil gets blamed for many things that should be laid at the door of depraved man. One such is Atheism. 

Atheism (no God) is a brain child of man. Satan is a lot of things, but when it comes to the existence of the one true God, he is no fool (Psa.14:1). Why would he teach a “No God” philosophy when he seeks worship as God? It caused his fall. 

Satan’s goal is not to get one to doubt God’s existence, but to doubt God’s Word. Our first parents were not tempted to  disbelieve in God, but to doubt the authority of His Word. To question a man’s word is to lose all confidence in the man.

Whether you hear it from the pulpit or a whisper in your ear, anytime you hear the words, “Yea, hath God said?” mark it down, Satan is the culprit.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's no Trouble to Jesus

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and...there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”

We, as those of Jairus's household, believe Jesus can help as long as it is within the realm of the possible. But once it moves into the impossible realm, we believe there is no reason to trouble Jesus any further. Like David’s sick child, we believe it’s humanly possible, but when the impossible enters, we cease to believe.

I love those two words Jesus uttered  after hearing their word of dismay and hopelessness: “Only believe.” Not, pray, fast, agonize, or claim. These may possibly have been done; but now, says He, you’re to simply keep on believing no matter how it looks, in spite of feeling, or what people might tell us.

Jesus is still saying to us today, I’m sure, “The only thing I want is for you to only believe! “ Believe till the end. Some of ours prayers, no doubt, will be answered after we’re gone.