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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Last Journey

"And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem." Christ visited Jerusalem on more than one occasion, I think four times. Each was a progression toward this, His final trek, for the express purpose of suffering and dying there.

Our Lord took life seriously and grasped every opportunity to glorify His Father. He practiced what He preached, that is, doing your duty today and letting tomorrow take care of itself. He knew what the near future held for Him, but He also knew Who held His future! And rested in that.

I have never ceased being awestruck at the amazing character displayed in the life of the Man, Christ Jesus. The grand finale of life is rapidly approaching and we find Him, as when He was young, busy about His Father's business. The Cross lying before Him, yet not self-centered, but like always, God-centered. 

At the close of His final days on earth, still eaten up with His zeal for God.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Go One Way or the Other

"Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set." 

This past year or so I have experienced such indecision on a certain matter I thought it would drive me crazy at times. I hesitate to mention it, lest I be embarrassed at its triviality. But the devil (or the flesh) made sure I majored on this minor concern every waking moment. Neither prayer, thought, or council, brought any solace of soul. It was especially difficult because any one of the three or four ways I could go would please the Lord, and better me as a Christian.

Finally in my desperation and exasperation I gave up. Then the answer came! The Holy Spirit seemed to lay upon my heart the words of Jonathan's armourbearer, "Do all that is thine heart." 
After briefly meditating on the choice I was most comfortable with, I settled it in my heart; then the double-mindedness and unsettledness ceased. As someone has said, "When Christ has His way with you, you can have your way with Him."    

Most certainly we must always, first and foremost, ask God's choice in any and all matters of life; big and small. But after having done so, many times He will reverse the question, "What would you like?" Is this not what we answer our obedient children when asked, "Father, what do you think I should to do?" Do not we often say, "What do you want to do?" And so it is with God! After all, who better to make a choice concerning one's person than a Spirit-filled child of God, who wants and desires only His glory?

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision."
Joel 3:14

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Righteous Rags

There seems to be a growing emphasis on man’s “righteousnesses,” rather than God’s righteousness. It has to do with the singular and the plural. In spite of the old prophet telling us that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” we persistently pursue, flaunting both ours and others’. Daniel, one of the Bible’s godliest men prayed, “[W]e do not present our supplication before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.”

The Scriptures know nothing of any righteousness other than God’s inward, imputed righteousness. Any and all outward righteous acts performed by us must come as a result of His working in us. All righteous acts not originating from God are “ragged rags.”

It’s time we put the emphasis back on God’s righteousness and realize who and what we really are. The song writer got it right when he penned, “I am all unrighteousness/ False and full of sin I am/ Thou art full of truth and grace.” In C.S. Lewis’ book Surprised by Joy, He writes a description of his heart, after God had revealed it to him: “a zoo of lust; a bedlam of ambitions; a nursery of fears; and a harem of fondled hatreds.”

"The self-righteous man sits self-governed in his own right; he is his own god."
(Oswald Chambers)