Tuesday, August 19, 2014

David on Prayer

"I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."

God hearing and answering David's prayer is by no means the main reason he loved the Lord, but most certainly is at the top of the list among the many other reasons. Someone might say, "But the text doesn't say God answered his prayer, only that He heard it." By checking the context (v.8), we see He did answer him. But had we no mention of an answer, common sense tells us He did. Otherwise,how would he have known God heard him? The prophets prayed all day for Baal to hear and answer them, but there was no answer. Elijah prayed a short prayer and God heard, and proved that He did by answering him.

John tells us, "We love Him because  He first loved us."  And how did He love us? "God so loved...He gave!" And why do we love Him? Because He gave. The principle is the same in David's case and throughout the Bible. When the Lover of our souls gives to His beloved simply because she asks, her love deepens. There is a glowing and growing love in the soul of a child when he or she realizes their father both heard and answered their request.

Jesus said, concerning prayer, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Is it not proper then to ask a granting of our prayers that God may be glorified? And, as David, is it not also fitting to ask God to give us our petitions that we may love Him even more? What David said in our text would not sound too spiritual to the "spiritual elite" of our day, but God knew David's heart. And He knows yours and mine dear friend.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

God is Great!

The Bible declares, in no uncertain terms, God is great. Therefore, it goes without saying, He does great things. He is not only great within Himself, but He accomplishes great things for His people. Even the heathen recognize this. In Psalm 126, we hear their testimony concerning God’s children: “The Lord hath done great things for them.” This is followed by the Lord’s people saying, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

As you read the history of the early Christians in the Book of Acts, you are impressed with how these primitive believers were daily telling of God doing great things in their lives—conversions, healings, miracles, needs met, enemies put down, personal victories, the list is unending. They were literally awestruck at God’s greatness.

Something terrible is happening today in the assemblies of God’s elect. No longer do we hear testimonies of our great God doing great things for His people. What is presented is an anemic, powerless, God, Who is bedridden. Elijah made fun of the god of the heathen because of his inability to help them; today, the heathen are laughing at our God, they believe He cannot do great things for us.

My question is that of the prophet of old: “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?”

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bitter Sweet

"Thy heart is not right in the sight of God…For I perceive thou art in the gall of bitterness.” 

The context of our scripture is is built around the person of the Holy Spirit. One similitude the Bible gives to the Holy Spirit is that of a dove. I am told that of all God’s fowl creation, it is the only one without a gall bladder, that is, the place where bitterness is stored. Harboring bitterness is not only hurtful to one's self, Hebrews tells us, "...lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Not only does this deep rooted sin affect you but those around you.

It is virtually impossible to be filled with the Holy Ghost and be full of bitterness at the same time. Amy Carmichael writes, "For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."  As James tells us in his little Epistle, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”  You’ll remember it was when Moses put a tree into the bitter waters of Marah that they became sweet. Only the Cross can cure this cancerous curse. 

The acid test for bitterness, I find, is if when a particular person's name is mentioned, there is a sick feeling in the heart. If so, it is pretty safe to say one's heart is filled with vinegar, so to speak. As a preacher friend told me once, "You're servant to the one you're bitter toward." They dominate most all your waking hours...thought, talk, etc. 

Ezekiel mentions an "old hatred," let us each judge our hearts and make sure no old grudges are festering there. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Child-Like Spirit

"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

One can be childlike without being childish. In dramatic school they taught us to have the head of an adult and the heart of a child. Jesus told these grown men they were to be childlike. And our Lord never asked anyone to be something He was not Himself. We hear much today about being Christlike. The list of characteristics seems to be endless, which has brought about discouragement in many trying to achieve and keep up with this, may I say, grocery-list of things. Simply put, Christ-likeness is child-likeness. And He kept His child-like spirit to the grave.

1. Any and all spiritually gifted and greatly used men and women of God have been marked by a child-like spirit. For example, Solomon. Not only did God grant his request for wisdom but threw in the kitchen sink, so to speak. Why? Listen to him, "And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in." It seems God doesn't deny the likes of him, their desire.

2. Jesus referred to those following Him as "My little children." John picks up on this term, using it no less than nine times in his first epistle, when speaking of God's elect. Paul also uses the the same phrase. We are told in our text God's Kingdom is made up of such. 

3. I have observed that little children are humble, trusting, forgiving, simple, and loving. But the characteristic that is sweetest, I think, is their spirit of wonder. Everyday there seems to something new and fresh about life. And so it should be with us "little children." The evangelist, Gypsy Smith, was asked when he was eighty the secret of his radiant Christian life. He answered, "I guess it is because I have never lost the wonder of it all." Have you, my friend? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

They Can't See the Forest For the Tree

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it."

I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but I read there are over twenty-three thousand different kinds of trees in the world. Among them, fruit trees numbering into the thousands; the apple tree alone is said to have some seventy-five hundred varieties. The Bible records the names of no fewer than twenty-seven of this vast number of fruit trees in the world. The possibility of a great number of trees being in the garden is far from being speculative. 

1. Interestingly, our first parents centered all their attention on the one tree that was forbidden rather than all those they had free access to. You could say, "They couldn't see the forest for the 'tree.'" God has an affinity for trees, He chose to die on one (1 Peter 2:24).

2. Legion, I've found, is the number who major on the few things God has restricted while losing sight of all the wonderful things freely given them. Things for their good and not for their hurt, as those in the off-limits area would do. Bypassing our fleshly desire for that one thing we want shows our love to Him. And in partaking of the many good things He has provided us, shows His love to us!

3. Years ago, when my daughter, Charity, was five, I taught her a lesson on tithing. I divided one-hundred pennies into two groups of ninety and ten, then said "Chip, that is God's tithe, it belongs to Him, the rest is yours." Grabbing up the ten pennies, she replied, "O, Daddy, you mean the Lord will let me have all of this?" When I told her it was just the opposite, that the ninety was all hers, and the ten was God's, she said, "That's all He wants?" She was amazed! 

And after all these many long years, so am I my friend. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Choices Within

Someone has said, "You can get so sweet you're sticky." I say, "You can get so spiritual you're sickening." One area in which this nauseating spirit is seen is with Christian choices. There are saints who believe God is to make all the choices in their life. But if you check them out, they mean the big ones. They decide on the everyday, what they call, little ones. Also, they do the selecting on what is big and what is little. But in scripture, you'll find God leaves most of the choices in life up to us; the only qualifying condition being that it is within the Will of God.

1. When Moses was giving instruction to some young ladies concerning one of the most important of all life's choices, marriage, he said "This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry." And Paul admonishes the widows in the Corinthian church, "She is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." God gives us a lot of elbowroom in life, does He not?

2. The old divines used to illustrate our liberty in life this way: On board a ship, one can pretty well do as they choose, except enter the restricted areas, which are plainly posted for all to see. God made us with different temperaments; our tastes, likes and dislikes are not all the same. We each have our own favorite colors, foods, clothing, entertainment, etc. The Lord leaves the choice to us on all these matters, unless strictly forbidden in His Word. My wife asks me often when shopping "Which shall I choose?" My usual answer is "Which do you want?" 

3. Does not God say, in principal, to each of His surrendered Spirit-filled children, as Jonathan's armour bearer said to him, "Do all that is in thine heart." What better person to make his or her own choices than a man or woman that is habitually in the Bible, continually in prayer, and desiring nothing but to please God! I have a saying in the front of my Bible I picked up from one of the authors I read after: "When Christ has His way with you, you can have your way with Him." 

Enjoy life; far too many are only enduring it.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Twelve Gates/One Way

We are told the celestial city to which God's children are traveling is foursquare, having three gates on each side. No matter which of the twelve gates one enters, all end up in the presence of the King and before His Throne. While it is not true all roads lead to that heavenly city and most by-pass it, still, these twelve entrances are legitimate. 

Notice two of these gates some would have closed if they had their way. 

1. That way by which little children come to Christ. They argue that you must be certain of the place, day, and hour, and little ones don't remember this, they say. Dr. Bob Jones said, "You don't have to know the day and hour, just make sure there was one." Paul could tell you the exact time and place of this great event in his life, but not so with godly Timothy. We're told he was taught the way of salvation from childhood by his granny and mother. People such as this have a difficult time with exactness as to their salvation; nevertheless, their lives prove there was a time and a place. Many who can give you the particulars of their conversion have not lived for God a day since. My dear friend, Evangelist John Rice, who was saved as a child, said, "I was there when I was born, but I don't remember anything about it. But I know it happened, for I have life." I say, children are as soundly converted as any reprobate who was ever saved!

2. The quiet conversion. I know of some, even preachers, who would board-up this gate. They believe you must have credentials of  an earthshaking experience, like that of the Philippian jailer, to prove you are one of God's elect. But Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, had no such dramatic testimony. It will do us well to remember we are not to seek others' experiences recorded in the Bible, but the Bibles teachings! The "still small voice" wins out over the sensational earthquake every time. I have found, and sadly experienced in my own life, those saved under spectacular preaching are in danger of thinking their daily Christian life will be that way. Whereas common conversions do not seem to have the problems that arrive with the mundane things of life. They make for good pluggers-along, as I like to refer to them.

Whatever gate we entered by let us not forget the other gates are just as bona fide. And never, never, forget, "And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."