Monday, June 29, 2015

Stay Out of That Mess

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” No spiritually enlightened Christian would deny this world is in one tangled up mess. And, furthermore, it is no surprise to them. But, what is a shock is the fact that so many of God’s people are enmeshed in this miserable mix-up. Once these cares entwine a believer, their spiritual life will be choked out of them. So says our Lord.

What is the cure for not being caught in this web of the world’s cares? Simple; it’s found in pleasing Him who chose us. We are to be absorbed with Him. This, says Jesus, is the one thing that is needful. Then the Caretaker will take care of the cares.

All the things of this world are geared to divert our attention from Him. This is true both in the social, political, and many times, religious realms. Nothing in this life really counts if it is not directly associated with Christ. And those things that do are to be approached through Him, not apart from Him

Satan’s goal, like Pharaoh’s of old, is to get God’s elect entangled in the land.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Daniel and the Law of the Land

"Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God."

At this time in Daniel's life he was in his eighties. Even so, the old man was a threat to the crooked politicians of his day. He had a reputation for honesty; all knew him to be a man of integrity, even his enemies. We are told by the Holy Spirit, "He had an excellent spirit." And believe me, He knew! 

These one-hundred and twenty political assassins knew it was useless to attack his impeccable character, so instead, they went after his faith. They passed a law that went directly against his God-given scriptural convictions. They knew well that he would not do wrong, but they were also aware, he would always do right concerning his God. And it is this latter fact with which they hoped to bring him down. 

John Gill writes in his commentary, "If therefore they could get an act passed, and signed by the king, which would any ways affect his religion, or any branch of it, or prohibit the performance of it for any time, they hoped to get an advantage of him, knowing that he would not on any consideration forsake or neglect that; which being said by his enemies was greatly to his honour."

What is one to do when the law of the land conflicts with the Law of God? It is plain throughout the Bible. As the early Believers told the authorities of their day when they were ordered to submit to laws contrary to their faith, "We ought to obey God rather than men."  And this they did, even at the expense of bodily suffering. 

And so it was with Daniel. He continued doing what he had always done in spite of the unscriptural law of the land. It could be said of him, as David wrote of the righteous man in Psalm 37, "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide."  

 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Rock in a Flowerpot

Is character an acquired thing or something possessed from birth? Or is it a little of both? Some people seem to be sadly deficient, if not completely void, of any and all character. It’s like they’ve never had any, nor will they have! Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “The only thing worse than having little character, is having no character at all.” 

I remember reading years ago something F. B. Meyer said about Esau and Jacob. He wrote, "In many respects, Esau had qualities that would have endeared him to us. For example, his affection for his father, his forgiveness toward his brother who had wronged him, as well as his manliness. All traits that are admired by principled people. And what of Jacob? Well, anyone familiar with his life up to this time would have to admit, it left much to be desired. Yet, this undesirable desired God’s blessings, while his brother was a “slave to his senses.” He went on to say, "Esau's type of character would never have changed, no matter what." He gave an illustration of putting a rock in a flower pot. It could be buried in good fertilized soil, watered constantly, and watched over with tender care, but it would never change; it would always remain the same. In such cases, prayer, time, expense, and concern doesn't even bring an encouraging bud of hope.

The mystery of all mysteries is how people can be born and brought up with everything against them, yet they blossom into something beautiful. On the other hand, I have seen individuals that had every advantage life could afford them, good parentage, education, and environment, yet remained dormant. After a lifetime, there is not one redeeming quality they display. How sad to have lived and died and left nothing of substance but one’s ashes! I’d love to be wrong on my assessment of some of these people, but experience has not left me with much hope. I wish it were not so, but it is a fact of life. And to deny it will only bring frustration as you water the rock in the flower pot.

Wonder of wonders: how a godly king, as Hezekiah, could produce a wicked, wicked son as Manasseh. And Amon, an ungodly king, could father a righteous and godly son as Josiah.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reformation or Revival, Which?

To put it simply, revival deals first and foremost with the internal, reformation with the external. The former begins in the heart and works its way out; the latter never gets past the first layer of skin. George MacDonald writes, “Nothing is so deadening to the divine as a habitual dealing with the outside of holy things.”

What today’s “religious moralist” wants is an outward religious and political change, not an inward conversion. Reformation is merely a demon leaving his house briefly, while a new coat of paint is being put on the exterior of things, only to return to it with seven of his worst kind of friends. Reformation has to do with respectability, revival with nobility. Dry-rot on the inside doesn’t concern the moralist.

I am not an authority on revival, but I did spend the biggest part of a fifty-plus year ministry as an evangelist and in revival work. I got in on the afterglow of the forties revival, which was simmering and went out in the fifties. God allowed me to see enough in my meetings to cause me to thirst after a real revival. I’ve seen people pass out and have to be carried to an altar. On numerous occasions there have been four hour invitations, which I did not give, where the people just wanted to repent and worship God. I’ve seen a Lutheran pastor tear his collar off and cry out for God to save him.  There was a youth camp where the youth would wake at three in the morning screaming for God to have mercy. In one large church, so many were getting right that they had to use the restrooms for inquiry rooms, because all the Sunday School rooms were filled  There were many, many more experiences like these, but I trust these will suffice to prove my point.

Yes, many good people long for revival and are praying for one, but on their conditions. And that is why revival will never come to them. Let’s face it; a Bible revival would scare the majority of today’s Christians half to death. It would reach far beyond their elitist group, and things would happen that their human reasoning could not explain. And may I add this note to many of you pastors; you can’t have revival without revival preaching. It seems to me when the evangelists were kicked out of the pulpits of America, revival went with them. May God have mercy! My Bible still says, “And He gave some…evangelists.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's Time to Move On

"Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount...Ye have compassed this mountain long enough"

In the fifth book of Moses, in the first few chapters, he recounts and reminds God's elect of their past history. As another has written, "He gives a short account of their long stay in the wilderness." One of the things he brings to memory is the time spent at the holy Mount. "Many days," which added up to just two weeks short of a year. During this time they received the giving of the Law, the Tabernacle and the things pertaining to it were made by them, and both civil and ecclesiastical rulers were appointed. He also calls to their recollection how after these things were accomplished, God had told them, so to speak, to get a move on.

God also has temporary earthly stops as we journey toward our heavenly Mount Zion. But we are in danger of becoming satisfied and overstaying our visits at some of these memorial places. We are to always keep in mind there is something even better up ahead. This is what the book of Hebrews is all about, something better. Is it any wonder then that the writer continually admonishes his readers with, "Let us go on." We, like them, if not careful, are at risk of,
"coming short," of our Kadesh-Barnea. The life-giving, life-satisfying, and life-energizing fruit of the Spirit is awaiting each of God's children who move forward in their Christian life, not those who stand still. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Close Enough to Hear

The late Harry A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church, tells the following story. It seems he needed a specific amount of money by the next day. He said the Lord had given confidence to claim and expect the exact amount for the succeeding day. And sure enough, it arrived by mail right on time. But, he thought, wouldn’t it have arrived anyway, had I not prayed? For the letter had been post marked three days previous. True, the Lord seemed to say, but isn’t it nice to be conscious of the fact you’re close enough to me to know what I’m about to do?

As Samuel of old, I believe God still speaks in the ear of His obedient ones, concerning things He already has in play (1 Sam. 9:15). I don’t want to be in hollering distance; I want to ever be within whispering distance (1 Kgs. 19:12). I long for my relationship with God to be up close and personal. I’d like for Him to say of me what He said of Abraham, “And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” You might remember, when the disciples wanted to know what was going on, they asked the one leaning on Jesus’ bosom, the one near to the heart of God!

Addendum: As most of our readers know, humanly speaking, we live on a very limited income. Yesterday, before leaving for church (an hour away) I checked my wallet to make sure I had gas and lunch money. I had $120. The Lord impressed on my heart to put all in the offering when it passed. The same burden was there at church. So I obeyed. I whispered to my wife what I had done. I told her to watch and see what the Lord was going to do in the next couple of days. Today, Monday, a dear friend wrote that he had come into some extra cash and wanted to share it with us. It was nearly three times the amount I had put into the offering. Is Luke 6:38 true or what!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

God's Echo

“Abraham, Abraham”; “Isaac, Isaac”; “Jacob, Jacob”—were these men, along with others, so hard of hearing that God had to repeat their names when speaking to them? No, God has a purpose in everything He does, and there is a Divine lesson for us in this repetition.

Since the Bible is its own best interpreter, we’ll allow it to give us the answer. Joseph, speaking to Pharaoh about his dream, explained, “And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God...” Both in the Old and New Testament, we find there is to be at least two witnesses to the truth. No doubt, this is why A.W. Tozer said, “Truth has two wings.”

Jesus taught this when He made the statement, “It is written," then added, “It is written again.” Paul also followed this pattern. For example, in Romans he says, “It is written," then follows this up by saying, “And again he [God] saith...”

Today, if you need Heaven’s confirmation as to the right or wrong of a thing, or if there is a decision you have made and need that final stamp of God’s approval, then listen, or watch, for it. It will come. When it’s from God, it will always have an identical twin.

“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this...(Psl.62:11,a).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Fallible Fathers

Every godly father longs for and desires a happy household. But, for one reason or another, this is not always the case. Sometimes the reason is apparent; at other times, it’s a mystery. How could God’s first two children disgrace their heavenly Father? And years after, God says of Israel, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” You certainly couldn’t blame the Father in these cases.

In 2 Samuel, chapter twenty-three, we have, “...the last words of David.” We are told how God anointed and raised him up on high, and that he was the “...sweet Psalmist.” David was a good and godly man; yet he had his share, along with many other greats, of family trouble. For example, his wife, Michal, became a snare to him, and one of his sons, Absalom, caused him humiliating embarrassment. Certainly, all of this must have been heart-breaking to this melancholy man of God.

Yet, in spite of his family troubles, he looks past the veil of tears and remembers God’s eternal promise. In verse five he says,
“Although my house be not so with God; yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant.” Its been said, "When we suffer in time, we can find solace in eternity."

The blessings of God the Father are upon godly fathers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Most Devastating Truth

"Jesus said unto [Peter]...thou shalt deny me...Peter said unto Him...I will not deny thee..."

I personally believe the most devastating fact we as saints will ever have to face and admit to is, as my dear mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins would say, "We are never as spiritual as we think we are." We are not who people say we are; we are not who we think we are; we are who God knows we are. We say, "If I know my own heart," but the problem is, none of us do! There is a deceiver within it. Only a self-righteous fool will trust his or her own carnal heart. 

Peter's problem is ours. He thought himself incapable of committing the ugly things of which others were. Like the Pharisee in the Temple, he thought he was a notch above the low man on the totem pole. In my long experience in dealing with God's people, I find few Believers have come to the realization that they are capable of anything and everything Bible saints were. The one sure proof is when you hear them say, "How could they do that? I could never do such a thing."

Any time we get outside God's hedge of Divine protection, we are open to the serpent's deadly bite. "...whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him."      

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Old Man's Advice

If I could give advice to any preacher, teacher, writer, or witness; along with Christians in general, it would be, “Make much of Jesus.” Make much of Him in all your sermons, songs, testimonies, and praying, as well as your writings (books or letters). I have had to ask God time and again to forgive me for failing to do so.

 As a young believer, I went through Paul’s epistles marking in red all references to Christ. Afterward, I had to buy a new Bible, for the pages I had marked looked as if someone had sprinkled them with fresh blood. Again, read Revelation. No matter how it’s interpreted, there is one thing all will agree upon; Jesus Christ is central. God, angels, beasts, and saints, all without exception, make over Him as none other creature has ever been lauded.

 We write, preach, and discuss such things as the Anti-Christ , the  King James Bible (not King Jesus), election, politics, the deeper life, soul winning, the Church, and a host of others things. But these are not to have the prominent place. Have we not yet learned it is not our “pet doctrines” that impress God? IT IS HIS AND HEAVEN’S “PET” that is to get all the attention. Everyone and everything, no matter how precious or important, is to always line up behind Jesus! The universe, and all that is in it, is to play “second fiddle,” to Jesus Christ.

 “Lord Jesus, Glorify thyself, and do it at my expense. Send me the bill, I’ll pay the price.”  (A.W. Tozer’s prayer)