Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Ox and the Cart

“For if I do this thing willingly...but if against my will...” Motive is everything with God. Many believe if they only do the right thing, it doesn't matter how or why they do it. But something can be done willingly or unwillingly, cheerfully or grudgingly, for the benefit of onlookers or for His sake alone Who sees in secret. It is possible to have the right actions for the wrong reasons. Internal quality of character suffers when right motive is not our mainstay.

The Pharisees were sticklers for their external rich rules, but poverty-stricken when it came to internal right motives. Right can become wrong for that person who does not do it for the right reason. Jesus’ order is, “First that which is within, then that which is without.” In many pulpits and churches, I am afraid we’re putting the cart before the ox.

"Honesty is the best policy." Bob Jones Sr, said, "If you're honest because it's the best policy, then your as crooked as a dog's hind leg!"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Seeking the Spectaculur

“...but the Lord was not in the wind...the Lord was not in the earthquake...the Lord was not in the fire...” How prone we are to look for God in the spectacular. Our impressionable and impulsive spirits give way so readily and easily to temporal externals.

We are so reluctant to admit the strong wind, in comparison to the Almighty, is no more than hot air; the earthquake is only a small, insignificant tremor; and the fire, man-made, using a light bulb and dangling scarlet cellophane in front of it for effect.

We need to hide our faces in our mantles, blinding us to all these passing, outward, earthly manifestations, and listen for the inward “still small voice” that will never pass away.

In the Temptation, Satan was for the spectacular; our Savior, for the Scriptures.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Christ, Historically and Heavenly Viewed

“Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” As long as Christians worship a babe, they themselves will remain one. The days of His flesh are ended (Heb.5:7). The earthly life of Christ is important; our faith is grounded in His historical birth, life, and death. But now we are to be taken up with the victoriously risen, glorified Christ. There is to be a new view of Him after His resurrection and ascension.

Today great emphasis is put on “Christ after the flesh,” both in music and art. But He is no longer to be evaluated from the human standpoint. Both the secular media and religionists make much of the Gospels and Christ’s earthly life, but never mention the Christ of Paul’s Epistles. In the former Jesus dwelt with His people; in the latter He indwells His people. The one is a physical fellowship, but the other is something much better, a Spiritual union.

1st Century or 21st Century

Speaking of our Lord’s post-resurrection appearance, we are told, “He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.” This does not include such as Peter, Paul, John, Thomas, the other disciples, and women.

I used to long to have lived in that early 1st Century, and been privileged to gaze upon Him in His risen form. To have watched as He ate a meal and later ascended into the heavens. How blessed I thought I would have been.

But then one day it struck me: this is not what Jesus taught. For He said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Do you realize the depth and implication of what our Lord said? Is it any wonder that Peter wrote to such people saying, “Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”? You know, being a 21st Century Christian may not be as bad as some think.

“Seeing is believing” is not the most blessed way, says our Lord.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Culture and Christianity

Many cultural conditions in the Bible have no parallel in our culture today. Few, if any, greet one another with a holy kiss. You don’t want to take a teaching that prevailed for that particular time and place and make it a binding law for all time, and in every place. It’s dangerous to make a blanket acceptance of first century Jewish culture, by transferring it into ours today.

Paul advised the single Corinthian believers to remain unmarried because of, “…the present distress.” But this was not to be a permanent statute, but was a temporal teaching for that time. Christ brought about vast changes in many cultural areas. For example, women no longer have their own Temple Court, or sit on opposite sides of the church to worship. The Cross now brings them along side their husbands.

There are transitory, geographical, and local cultural conditions in the Bible that were never meant to be timeless, nor universal. But the principle teaching can be applicable to whoever, whenever, whatever. For example, my wife says of the wise woman of Proverbs 31, “I don’t have to buy a sewing machine and make my own clothes to be like her; but I do need to be industrious if I’m to emulate her.”

It’s not the kiss, but an affectionate greeting that’s the issue. Not the washing of feet, but ministering to another’s needs that is important. Let us be careful we do not lose the lasting principle, while trying to establish something permanent out of the temporal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hand-Me-Downs

What oldtime family, of any size, does not understand the significance of hand-me-downs? For those in our present day who know little or nothing of the meaning of the term; it's a garment or items that have been passed on from another person, usually a family member. It is pre-owned, if you please.

All God’s blessings, His righteousness, promises, mercy, peace, etc., are hand-me-downs from His First-born. Christ is the medium by which we receive all the good things of God. You might say, “We get them second hand.” But no worry, they're the same as new when we become possessors of them.

Ah, what an honor, what privilege, and how humbling, to wear and to display our Elder Brother’s hand-me-downs!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sleeping Under the Feather Bed

The word "circumstance" is derived from circum, meaning around, outskirts. This definition is seen in kindred words such as: circumference, circumvent, circumcision, circumscribe, and circumspectly. 

Circumstances can so encircle a person that before long, they feel they are on top of them. Hence the saying, "Under the circumstances." As Oswald Chambers quotes another, "Circumstances are like feather beds, very comfortable to be on top of, but immensely smothering if they get on top of you." Christ would have us to be always on top of any and all circumstances! 

Circumstance is not the cause that determines, but simply the condition that dominates. We may not have control over the circumstances in our lives, but we can control ourselves whatever the circumstances. The principle being, "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." Our circumstance is not greater than Christ! Jesus Christ was born into a world where every circumstance was against Him, yet was victorious in all situations.

Circumstances may not change, but we can. And that my friend, is the victory that overcometh the world!