Monday, December 31, 2007

*Thoughts on the Morrow

“Take no thought for the morrow.” As of today, I have 365 “morrows” before me. Jesus said I’m not to worry about any of them—not health, business, family, world conditions, finances, children, etc. It is a waste of time, energy, and effort to do so. It has been proven that most of the things that cause us undo concern never come to pass.

Fear of the future paralyzes in the present. It causes me to be unproductive in every area of life. Worry shows not just a lack of faith, it goes much deeper. It reveals a wicked heart of unbelief. How can we be anxious about what lies ahead, and at the same time say we believe Romans 8:28 is true in every aspect of our lives.

If our future is as bright as the promises of God, then we need to be laying hold on these “exceeding great and precious promises.”

Saturday, December 29, 2007

*The Bridge Up Ahead

“And Moses brought their cause before the Lord.” Though our Lord is omniscient, He does not always cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s in advance. Knowing the end from the beginning, He is certainly capable of it. Yet, in spite of His foreknowledge, He waits until some things arise to give His verdict on them.

In Numbers chapter twenty-seven, we have such a situation. A difficult problem arose in the lives of some of God’s people, and a solution had to be sought from the Lord. In all His commandments, laws, and practical precepts, He chose not to cover this particular difficulty till it came up.

I believe God is teaching us in this incident to not worry about crossing certain bridges until we come to them. Whenever the unexpected and unforeseen pops up, it is then that we can go to the Lord for the solution. Until then, let’s go by the things that lie before us and that we know for sure.

Anticipating uncertain problems in the future can create bigger ones in the present.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Quick Draw Artists

“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” little girl who trusted Christ in one of my meetings years ago was asked later what happened to her. She replied, pointing a finger at me, “He saved me.” Statements such as this cause convulsions in legalistic hair-splitters. Unless the “t” is crossed and the “i” dotted in the word “salvation,” then, as far as they’re concerned, you haven’t experienced it.

Supposedly wrong terminology doesn’t mean one hasn’t the right theology. If you’ll notice the text, our little convert was closer to the truth than those who have a fast draw and are quick on the spiritual trigger. These types of people, to their own embarrassment, have shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion.

Some people go through life with their hand always on their holster.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

*God's Highway

“…they departed…another way.” If you’re among the wise who seek Christ, then God will do for you what He did for these three wise men. If you’re a true worshipper of God’s Son, when confronted with difficulties, and when it seems there is no way out, God will make “another way” for you.

There is more than one way out of a problem, and our All-knowing God is familiar with them all. No matter what the circumstances, or how impossible things may seem, God will show you “another way” out. He promises, “I will even make a way in the wilderness.” And to this, God’s man (Moses) and two and a half million of God’s elect (Israel) say: “Amen and Amen!”

With God, there’s always another way out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

No Time like the Present

“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.” Interestingly, the Prisse Papyrus, held by many to be the oldest bit of known writings in existence, starts off with these words, “Alas, times are not what they used to be!”

Has there ever been an age that didn’t applaud the past and lament the present? The 16th Century was one of the turning points in history, with the Protestant Reformation, but Erasmus, who lived then, called it, “the excrement of the ages.”

It seems then that we are not the first generation to be discouraged with the contemporary days in which we live. Remembering the good things of the past is one thing; trying to relive them is another. It is alright to keep one eye on the mirror, as long as the other one is on the road.

My pastor says, a nostalgic is someone who keeps both eyes on the rear view mirror! “David…served his own generation.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

*What is He Worth to You?

My wife has a note in her Bible which reads, “The value of anything is in direct proportion to what someone is willing to pay for it.” Not all of God’s chosen have put a very high price on Jesus. The Gospel writer tells us, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value...” They thought His worth was the same as a common slave.

How many of God’s children today have sold His Son for a mess of this world’s pottage? They have under-valued Him. They sing “I’d rather have Jesus than anything,” but they sing it from feigned lips. Few are willing to give all they have for this Pearl of great price. But that little Jew, Saul of Tarsus, did. His testimony was, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Paul considered anything put in comparison to Christ to be manure. Everything in life—no matter how good—has a stench, without His holy fragrance upon it.

The definition of the word “invaluable” is, “beyond calculable value: of inestimable worth: priceless.” May He never be, in our lives or ministries, up for sale. No matter if it is all the gold of Ophir. Solomon’s wealth is worthless; for we have found the One who is greater than Solomon. Amen, Amen, and Amen!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

*Caleb's Clan

“Give me this mountain.” Though in his eighties, the old man was still climbing to new heights. As someone has said, “I think his heart was born twenty-five years after his body.” Often a very young spirit inhabits a very old body. Within many an old person is a young one.

What was the secret of this spiritual mountaineer? Simple; “…he wholly followed the Lord.” You’ll never stop the old saint who bears this testimony. When others saw themselves as grasshoppers and the enemy as giants, Caleb saw God. The crisis does not create, but always reveals, the man.

I, for one, want to die climbing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Intellectual Humility

To me, the only thing more embarrassing than an ignorant person attempting to sit in the seat of the learned is an intellectual peacock flaunting his or her mental superiority. The former has somewhat of an excuse for such ill-mannered behavior, but for the latter there is no justification.

For example, C.S. Lewis is considered to be one of 20th Century’s great intellects. I personally have been moved time and again by his intellectual humility. He never comes across as superior or belonging to a close knit society of elites. He brings pearls up from the depths to show to us who do not have the advantage of possessing diving suits.

As an illustration of intellectual simplicity, honesty, and humility, allow me to quote one of Lewis’s excerpts on the subject of “Doubt.”

I think the trouble with me is lack of faith. I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convince me of God’s existence: but the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. Mind you, I don’t think so—the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so. However, there is nothing to do but peg away. One falls so often that it hardly seems worth while picking oneself up and going through the farce of starting over again as if you could ever hope to walk. Still, this seeming absurdity is the only sensible thing I do, so I must continue it.

I am thankful as an amateur writer I adopted him as my mentor!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

*Sorry Sabbatarians

“Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?” Legalists make no exceptions. Their rules are straight and never to be bent. That is, until it has to do with their own interests and concerns. If it is their ass or ox—that is, their church, their family, their friends—then that is quite another thing. Or, as they say, “That’s a horse of a different color.” This crowd is willing to break the rules to help an animal, but not to heal a human.

Jesus never encouraged the breaking of the Sabbath law, but did teach this law was to be interpreted by love. As Paul says, there is no law against love. But, exceptions only prove the rules; they don’t void them.

Those who take advantage of exceptions are forever expecting others to be tolerant, long-suffering, and patient with them. But this continued abuse of privilege wears thin over a long period of time. As a friend of mine used to say, “If I had an ox that fell into a ditch every Sabbath, I’d shoot him!” Any person can play the fool once, but to do it time and again, he really is a fool.

When the exception becomes the rule, you have a problem.

Monday, December 17, 2007

*Gaurd Your Heart

“If I know my heart, I could never do that.” Whenever you hear a statement such as this, it is apparent the person making it knows little or nothing of the human heart. Peter, like many before and after him, thought he knew it. He believed others capable of doing atrocious things, but never himself. This is the worse, and most dangerous, of spiritual pride.

The Bible tells us of a deceiver who lives inside each of Adam’s race. We are constantly lied to by him, and what is worse, as Israel of old with its false prophets, we love to have it so. We are not coerced into believing falsehoods about ourselves. We readily consent to it. We allow ourselves to be deceived by ourselves.

Is it any wonder then that the wise man says, “Madness is in their heart while they live.” Have we not learned by now that the liar within always promises good but ends by performing the bad? Only by having a regenerate heart, and yielding unconditionally to the One who gave it, can we be assured it will “…do [us] good and not evil all the days of [our] life.”

Whoever rules your heart will decide your outcome.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Reminder of His Return.

“I will come again.” One of the tenets of mainstream Christianity is belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth. To this fundamental truth, all evangelical Christians agree. The point of contention arises over the order in which He will return. For two thousand years this has been discussed among God’s family. Many times, so hotly debated that it brought more friction than light!

Eschatology should not be the basis for our fellowship with other believers. If it is, you are saying how He comes is of greater importance than the fact of His coming. The event is not more important than the Person. The three main views of Christ’s coming are: pre-millennial, post-millennial, and a-millennial. Each of these has good arguments; but all of them are shot with holes. What is one to do? First, find the view you believe to be closest to the Scriptures. This, each individual must decide for himself, and he must be accepted into fellowship, though you may not hold to his particular belief.

Secondly, it is vital that we major on what we all agree on. That way, we are certain that we hold the basic views of the early Church. And what were these views? Without exception, they believed three fundamental things concerning His coming: 1) they believed in the fact of His Second Coming; 2) they believed no one could know the exact time of this great event; and, 3) they exhorted one another to be ready for His coming at all times.

Believe what you will as to the order of His coming, but cleave to, and never let go of, the fact of His coming.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

*Against All Odds

"…thou mighty man of valor." What do Gideon, Jephthah, Naaman, and Zadok have in common? They were all "mighty men of valor." In spite of the fact that the first was a poor, dirt farmer; the second, the son of a harlot; the third, a leper; and the fourth man, but a youth, they still excelled.

Coming from a poor background, having immoral parents, being shunned by others, and having little experience in life, does not have to affect or determine who we are. A person can be a man or woman of mighty character…against all odds. Such people, I find, cling to the text,

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." These people not only believe they can; they do.

"Three strikes and your out" never applies to those with character.

Friday, December 14, 2007

*You're being Followed

I do not know how many realize it but God has dispatched two fellows to follow each of His children daily. And we are told this will continue all the days of their lives. David is the first to tell us of them. He even goes so far as to give descriptive names to each. In his beloved twenty-third Psalm he identifies them as “Goodness” and “Mercy.”
God not only promises to go before us, but to also be our “rereward” (Isa.52:12). It is important for weak faltering saints such as us to have assurance that someone is there, ready to help us when we fall on our face. These two gentlemen are always close at hand. They are never far away. You’ll find as soon as you hit the pavement, each will be there, taking you by an arm, lifting you up, and getting you back on your feet again.

Mister Mercy and Mr. Goodness are two of God’s strong men. And they are always close on our heels.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bi-What?

"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are..." No one can deny this man had his highs and lows. He could go from the mountain top to the valley of despair in no time flat. One minute he's praying down fire from Heaven; the next he's praying to be taken to the funeral home!

If this man's man were with us today, I'm certain all the amateur, self-appointed psychologists among the saints would dub him "Bi-polar." That is, one with opposite extremes, a person who alternates between hopelessness and elation. To be sure, there are legitimate cases that need professional help, but not nearly as many among believers as some would have it.

Calling too much attention to a minor condition can make even the normal seem abnormal. Overemphasis can cause one to be overwrought. Some are quick to diagnose another's so-called ills, while shifting attention away form their own pitiful condition. "Physician heal thyself," is good advice for all of us.

History reveals scores of individuals who experienced exceptional highs and lows in life. Mozart, Shakespeare, St. John, Mark Twain, Poe, to name a few. Yet, in spite of this (or because of it) they somehow produced and left us with something. Let's face it; all of us are on a roller-coaster. It's just that some have higher highs and lower lows than others.

A bi-polar to most Christians is anyone who has more emotional ups and downs than they do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eating Our Words

“I said in my haste, All men are liars.” In trying to understand this text you’ll find there are as many interpretations as there are commentaries. At such times I find it more profitable not to be as concerned with, “What meaneth this?” as, “What saith the scripture?” When one does not know what a text means, it is usually (not always) safe to go by what it says.

Just prior to making this rash statement, David tells us, “I was greatly afflicted.” It is neither uncommon nor unnatural for God’s people to hastily utter harsh, censuring, criticism of others when dire circumstances are prolonged in their lives. Because of the weakness of the flesh, there are occasions when the best of Christians can speak amiss and utter things they do not really mean.

During these instances when our faith falters, we can become morbid. We see things and people in a gloomy and melancholic way, which is not true in reality, at lest to the extent we carry them. When we pass through painful periods, we need to heed the godly advice of Matthew Henry, who admonishes, “What we speak amiss, in haste, we must by repentance unsay again.”

Eating our words can be bitter to the spirit, but sweet to our soul.

Monday, December 10, 2007

*Amazed

Noel Coward said, “You’ll know you’re old when you cease to be amazed.” We could just as rightly say, “A Christian can know their getting cold when they cease to be amazed with Christ.” Whenever we are no longer awed by the thought of God, it is then rigor mortis begins to set in. We become like the believers at Sardis, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”

When was the last time you sang, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene?” Let’s go a step further. When was the last time you stood amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene? May it be said of us, as it was of them of old, “And they were all amazed, and they glorified God.”

Thursday, December 6, 2007

*God is Enough

“I am thy…exceeding great reward.” Not thy reward, but thy “exceeding, great” reward. What more could one want? The little Sunday School boy had it right when he mistakenly quoted the Twenty-third Psalm by saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want.” How content God should make us! When Hannah was wanting and weeping for something other than her beloved husband, Elkanah said, “[A]m I not better to thee than ten sons?” Or as the poet put it, “Am I not enough, mine own, enough, mine own, for thee?”

The king of Israel said to Benhadad, “I am thine, and all that I have…” So says our God to us. We have the Rewarder as well as the reward. Things may suffice us; but only God can satisfy us. It is only God, and God alone, who can make us happy. As the old Puritan said, “You can’t find happiness digging it out of a cursed earth.” “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”

Abraham gave up the King of Sodom’s offer of a reward, and got the King of Kings in its place.

Death at the Door

Why is it we can sit calmly in our homes listening to an insurance rep speak to us about preparing for death, and yet we squirm in church when the preacher does? Simple; the former presents this great event as future, while the latter makes it imminent. Plus, and most important, the former spokesman has no addendum to his pitch, but the latter does in his preaching. The preacher always adds that after our appointment with death there is God.


In the last couple of years, I had a life threatening experience; death was not at my door, but he was on the porch! I had always thought of death as happening to others. It was hard for me to imagine it happening to such an indomitable person as myself. But after confronted with it, I now find my attitude toward almost everything in life has changed. Paul said, “…neither count I my life dear unto myself.” Well, I’m ashamed to say, I had, even though I was not conscious of it. Or maybe I just didn’t want to admit it. We all like to fancy ourselves as being spiritual, and we like others to see us this way also.

The old timers used to say, “You’re not ready to live, till you’re ready to die.” I personally believe that whenever we are honestly willing to be confronted with death, and allow it to become a reality to us, then and only then, will we begin to live.

Or as George McDonald says, “You will be dead so long as you refuse to die.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

*Two or Three and Jesus

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Most of my fifty years as a preacher has been spent ministering to small churches and groups. In fact, Jesus Himself shepherded a "little flock." The important thing is not how many people are present, but that He is there. I'd rather be where two or three are, with Him, than be among two or three thousand, where He is absent.

His presence is promised to the smallest number if they be gathered in His name. Was He not in the midst of the three Hebrew children who suffered for that name? And what about the small band of disciples hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Lord's enemy? Twice in John, we are told that He stood in the midst of them. Shut doors can't keep Him away from His own. Also, let us not forget Peter, James, and John— He was always with them. And I am sure, the widow, her son, and Elijah would testify to the fact that He was among them to sustain them.

Oh, child of God, realize today, when you and your friend are gathered in His name, He is there. It may be that you are an elderly husband with his wife, or a little family assembled together on your knees. Maybe it's two or three teenagers meeting in His name. Of this you can be assured; the great I Am is present in your midst. You can always depend on Jesus showing up when the party is in His honor.

When two gather in His name, then one and one add up to three.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

In the Name of Jesus

If Jesus is no different, let’s say, from the prophet, Mohammed, then, pray tell me, why the mere mention of that blessed Name upsets the children of this world, both in the secular and religious realm. Today, there is a universal movement on to erase that precious Name from the vocabulary of every people and nation.

But this is no new thing. It’s been going on for over 2000 years. Those early, primitive believers were threatened, and commanded, “…not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” Why was this? Because this Name has the authority of all Heaven behind it.

It is this Name that can get a person back on his or her feet again; “In the name of Jesus…rise up and walk.” It can heal the sick; “Is any sick among you? … [anoint] him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Devils flee at His name; “I command thee [evil spirit] in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” And, best of all that glorious Name can save to the uttermost; “…thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

*Swallowed Up in Love

To love God with all one’s heart doesn’t leave much room for the world. David, a man after God’s own heart, panted after Him. But it says of Israel, in their backslidden state, that they “...pant after the dust of the earth.” John the Beloved tells us in his first Epistle that a man cannot love God and the world at the same time. Love for God swallows up all other loves, as Moses’ rod swallowed up those of the Egyptians.


When it comes to God and others, two loves cannot co-exist. No matter what, or who, stands in comparison, He must always be the preeminent One. This is why the Lord asked Abraham to offer up his darling son. Isaac held a place in his father’s heart that was on the same plane, and equal to, his love for God.

Worldliness does not have to do so much with dress, amusements, habits, etc. The Bible definition for worldliness is “love not the world”; it has to do with affections. It is not having or enjoying certain things, but rather, setting your affections on them, so that they are loved as much, or above, God.

May God help each of us to love Him so much that, when compared to all else, it will seem like hate. As Leah, who, though dearly loved by her husband, thought she was hated by Jacob because of his great love for Rachel, may it be so with our love for God.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Old Dogs and New Tricks

The little cliché says, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” I cannot vouch for its veracity, but I can say with certainty that you can teach old Christians new truths. That is, if they’re willing and courageous enough to receive them, for it takes both if one is to go on with God Spiritually. But if these two elements are lacking, you’re doomed to spend your life in a small cylinder running nowhere.

I know a dear man of God who has spent his entire ministry of over fifty years preaching on novel, external standards. He now privately admits most of these have no scriptural grounds. When asked why he continues to preach them, his reply was, “I’m too old to change now; besides, people expect it of me.” What a sad commentary.

No saint should ever consider changing on the great cardinal doctrines of historic Christianity. But on non-essentials that do not relate to the person and work of Christ, salvation, the scriptures, etc, we should always be open to modifying our positions when shown a “better way.” The book of Hebrews tells of those who opposed change in their lives. We need more saints with the humble spirit of Apollos (Acts 19:26).

Far too many of us are like Peter. He enjoyed the liberty that Paul’s Grace preaching presented, but at the same time wanted to remain in good standing with his legalistic brethren. As a result of his cowardice, Barnabas, along with others, was led into a double life of deception (Gal.2:11:13).

When the four lepers discovered God’s grace in their lives, they said, “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace…now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.” Let each of us who know the Grace of God in truth, go and do likewise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Agony of Waiting

I’m aware the Bible says that we are to “wait patiently for the [Lord]”; but I also am conscious of the scripture that tells us “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It can be agonizing waiting for the external, but it is necessary.

It is not always an easy thing for the sick to patiently wait for the medication to kick in; nor is it easy for the farmer who waits long for his crop, or the Pastor looking for fruit in the new convert’s life; and most certainly, it’s no easy thing for the parents of a prodigal to wait for his or her return home.

The Word of God speaks of “longsuffering,” that is, one who suffers long. There is a wonderful truth found in God’s Book. And that is, after a long night of suffering, joy comes in the morning.

Jesus laid down this principle when He told His followers, “…ye shall have sorrow, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Then He gave them an illustration of this fact, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow…but as soon as she is delivered of child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world.”

“Sufferings are but as chips of the cross.” (Puritan saying).

Friday, November 23, 2007

At the End of the Day

The little English idiom used in our title means, “In conclusion,” or “When all is said and done.” God’s Word uses such expressions which have the same gist connected to them. You’ll find phrases like: “And what will ye do in the end thereof?”, “O…that they would consider their latter end!”, and, "What will ye do in the day of visitation…to whom will ye flee for help?”

In other words, using today’s vernacular, the question would be phrased something like this, “In the last act, after the final scene, when the curtain comes down, what are you going to do? Let’s face it; most Christian’s answer is the same as the women’s who was stepping out on her husband. When asked where she thought it would all end, her reply was, “I really haven’t thought that far ahead.”

I don’t know about others, but at the end of the day I want to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A New Look for Old Truths

“[W]hich bringeth forth out of his treasure both new and old.” The new without the old is novelty; the old without the new is moldy. To separate the two can be disastrous. They are to always go together. To contend for the new at the exclusion of the old is to lose your way. To insist on the old at the expense of the new is to lose your vigor.

Some are fearful of the new while others are frightful of the old. Jesus was good at putting new looks on old faces. To be uncomfortable with the one does not justify the condemning of the other. The old message stays the same, but new methods are always needed. Keep the old experiences, but don’t do away with new experiments. It’s refreshing to see old truths in new garb. We are not to be content with old discoveries. There is new gold yet to be mined.

Everything old was new at one time and considered progressive and contemporary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recipe for Success

“This book of the law…observe to do…and then thou shalt have good success.” Although this is the only mention of the word “success” in the Bible, its principle is found throughout. The world’s book defines the word as: 1) turning out as was hoped for; 2) having gained wealth, fame, etc. But God’s Book gives the meaning as finding the will of God and doing it from the heart.

Many Christians today are emulating the world in climbing the ladder of success. They ascend this ladder, stepping on the rungs of others’ shoulders, with spiked shoes. No one is a success who does it at another’s expense. Our first priority is not how to make money or gain knowledge, but how to live. Many a PhD can be found in a Salvation Army soup line. If we succeed without God, at best, we are successful failures.

I am not advocating passivity, waiting on God to do something without you, but, rather, activity with God in a partnership. You can’t expect your ship to come in if you never sent one out.

Success is a 1st Century Carpenter saying, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Creative Christians

“I see men as trees…[Jesus] put his hands again upon his eyes…and he…saw every man clearly.” Whenever we see things blown out of their natural proportion, our Lord would have us take another look. In a real sense, this can be a “second blessing.” All of us, I think, have had the experience of being deceived at first sight.

In the laboratory of life, we need to learn not to magnify pygmy problems into giant ones. If not careful, a miniature can become a colossus, and a Goliath will be created out of a gnat; and, as a result, we will be overcome and controlled by something of our own making. Remember Dr. Frankenstein!

God dwarfs all giants even the imaginary ones.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

*A Man of Many Contradictions

How like Simon Peter we all are. We love the mountain tops with our Master; but dread the valleys, and dealing with the devil. We cherish those few seconds in life when we walked on the water, but regret following afar off all the other times.

Our Lord loved this lamb of contradictions: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”; “I know him not.” This fisherman could go from celestial heights to the lowest state to which a Christian can fall. Nevertheless, when our Lord had risen and had given command to go and tell His disciples, He added, “and Peter.”

Yes, Simon Peter, like us, seemed to be a contradiction of the word “Christian.” But he had a quality that all God’s great saints possess: He was a good “repenter”—a quality not seen in many of God’s chosen today—but a quality God looks for in those He intends to bless and use.

It is not a question of whether or not we are going to sin; we all do, and will. The question is how we feel about it when we do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

The aged Apostle Paul is shut-up in prison; the train is pulling into the station for his departure; he is lonely and saddened in heart, because of all the false friends that have turned away from him in his time of need. He starts his second letter to his young protégé, Timothy, discussing these “fair weather friends.” So-called saints upon whom he had relied, but who had proven faithless in this, his hour of hardship.

He mentions two by name, “Phygelus and Hermogenes.” They’re listed only once in the New Testament, but by this brief record, they attained an immortality of disgrace for their disloyalty to the “old war-horse.” But in contrast to these twin betrayers, he mentions one “Onesiphorus,” a loyal to-the-end friend. He certainly represented the friend that loveth at all times, which the wise man speaks of.

You can always spot those who belong to Onesiphorus’ clan. Invariably, they make diligent search for their friends who are chained in dreary dungeons of discouragement. They refresh, comfort, and relieve their comrades in arms. They are not ashamed of their colleague’s chain. And what be the reward of a supporter such as this beloved brother? Both he and his house were blessed of God (1Tim.1:15-18).

By the way, let me take this opportunity to thank the Onesiphorus’ in my life and ministry! I refer to them as “The Faithful Few.”

“A friend is someone coming in while others are going out.” (Anon)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Defining God

Only Jesus Christ can define God! All attempts by theologians, mystics, and self-inflated spiritualists to do so apart from God’s only Beloved Son are just so much tripe. This topic is not open for discussion; it is an eternally settled fact. He is the “…express image of [God’s] person.” Jesus Himself told Philip, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” If you want to approach God, or know what He thinks about the issues of life, then you must come to Him through Jesus Christ.

I have observed that there is among the younger generation today a sect who follows “another Jesus,” and that Jesus is void of any knowledge of the One True God. It is a Jesus that conforms to their conjured-up religious philosophy. It is not the Jesus of the Word, but rather the Jesus of the world. You can always spot these empty vessels that hold so dearly to this foreign Christ, invariably they all neglect the written Word of God.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The God of the Leftovers.

My Grandma Morrison was an old-time, Primitive Baptist. She was of Kentucky stock, through and through. As a boy, I remember most vividly how, when entering her house I would immediately cast my eyes toward the dinning room table. And as always, she had a nice clean table cloth spread over what is called, “the leftovers.” And I can say with all honesty, I felt then, and still do, that her leftovers were better than most other’s main meal.

You will remember that after Jesus fed the multitude, He had the disciples “gather up the fragments that remain[ed].” He kept and used the leftovers; there was no waste with Him. The dictionary gives the meaning for waste as, “exceedingly or recklessly wasteful.” The Bible teaches we should never throw away or discard anything we have that is still useful to us or others. To allow things to rot or ruin, whether it is food or other material items, it is contrary to the principles found in the Word of God.

Prodigality characterizes our nation, and has moved into the Church. It can be said of many Christians today what was said of the Prodigal of old, “[He] wasted his substance.” The wise man speaks of one who is, “…a great waster.” We are told he’s kin to the lazy man (Prov.18:9). We live above what we have and spend more than we can afford. Great blessings can become great curses if not handled right. Remember the story of King Midas!

The only waste God doesn’t condemn is Mary’s kind.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Love in Deed

“[L]et us not love in word...but in deed…” I find most pastors and congregations are shocked when I tell them that Jesus never told anyone, while here on earth, that He loved them. He loved in “deed,” not in “word.” As the old adage goes, “Talk is cheap.” It costs nothing to tell someone you love them; the real test of any love is what you are prepared to “lay down.” It says of Divine love, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” And who is not familiar with “For God so loved...that he gave…”?

I can test my love for God and others today. In fact, this very minute, I can know if I possess the real thing or have a counterfeit. How much am I ready to spend? How much will I bleed? There is a lot of superficial love among Christians today. It’s a love that lays down nothing, but only takes up things. It is self-seeking; self-crucifixion is foreign to it. True, Biblical love lays down its life for God and others. You can always track it; the road it travels is stained with crimson. We are partakers of His Divine nature. Let us, therefore, love in deed.

Affection without action is like Rachel—beautiful, but barren. (John Trapp)

Monday, November 12, 2007

*Do You Know the Holy Ghost?

I’m not being mystical in this article, though some who have no dealings with the Spirit will probably accuse me of it. I have a message entitled, “Do You Know the Holy Ghost?” It’s possible to know Him in an intimate way. Jesus, in John, speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, says, “…but ye know him…” Just a random reading of the book of Acts shows that God’s people were sensitive to the Spirit. Both Phillip, Peter, and Paul knew and obeyed His voice.

I find many Christians today believe the Spirit speaks to them on big things they consider spiritual, but not on the little mundane things in life that we believe have nothing to do with the spiritual realm. But, on the contrary, there are times when the Spirit will speak to a believer about doing seemingly small, unimportant things that other Christians would consider silly and laughable, if you told them.

What the Holy Ghost is doing by this is keeping the believer sharp in the small, everyday things of life, so that when the big tests come, it will be natural and habitual to follow His leadership.

May each of us be so sensitive to the Holy Ghost that we will obey Him in those insignificant, seeming trifles of everyday life. If we do not, it’s doubtful He will call on us when the big things occur. After all, we’d not know His voice if He did speak to us.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Finding Out for Yourself

Concerning a scripture found in the Old Testament book of Hosea, Jesus challenged the religious crowd of His day to, “[G]o ye and learn what that meaneth.” Evidently they didn’t take the time to discover its sense, for later on He says to them, “…if ye had known what this meaneth.” They knew what it said, but not what it meant. The former has to do with the letter, the latter with the spirit. It takes two wings to fly, if you’re to soar into the Heavenlies.

Far too many of us are echoes of what others say and believe. Such resonance from us carries an empty, hollow sound. Paul said we are to be fully persuaded in our own minds. And Jesus tells us that to accomplish this you must go and find out for yourself. There are times when you will spend days, weeks, yes, even months and longer, mulling over one text and its meaning. Read about some of Daniels experiences along these lines, if you doubt this. The deep things of God are not revealed to shallow, superficial saints.

The Bible can shed a lot of light on Commentaries!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Warning to the Wise

I’ve noticed more and more believers seem to be, to put it in their words, bored with their Christian lives. This is especially true among those thirty and under. Why is this? My personal opinion is that they got too much too soon, whether it be position or prosperity. It seems to me many want to enjoy the benefits of the aged without putting in their time. Appreciation comes from waiting.

The kings of old had court jesters that they used to cheer and prop them up when they were bored with all their blessings. Evidently, it did not dawn on them that the down side of life is as necessary as the upside. I’ve noticed those who want to be on the mountaintop all the time invariably think of themselves as special and deserving of something the rest of us are not.

Everything and everyone connected with Christianity can become a bore, if one’s relationship with Jesus Christ is not right. It is He that is the spice of life. It is He, and He alone, who lights up one’s life. You do not have to be constantly entertained in His presence. He is always new and fresh. And He is never boring.

When God is the center of your life, you can lose everything, as Habakkuk of old and still rejoice in Him. Out of the ugly ashes of loss, you’ll always have “the beauty of the Lord.”

Friday, November 9, 2007

*Christ Plus

“And ye are complete in him...” No life is complete until it is hid in Christ. It is in Him and Him alone that we find completion. Salvation, sanctification, and satisfaction find their completeness in Christ. He is the Source from which all of life flows. It is in Him that our human capacity for the enjoyment of life is filled. In fact, in Him, all is limitless; there is no measuring rod to go by.

We insult Christ when we tag on to Him additives. We rob Him of His fullness by supplementing anything else. If we are to share in His fullness, it must be Christ and Christ alone. The focus must be on Him and nothing else. A rich relationship with God is only to be found in His only beloved Son. “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw...Jesus only.”
It is not Christ plus, or Christ and; it is Christ alone.

Setbacks

Webster’s brief definition of setback is, “a reversal in progress.” No one is exempt from these testy times, no matter how spiritual their makeup. Setbacks are a part and way of life. Hiding your head in the sand or trying to wish them away, will not avail in vanquishing them. They must be faced if we are to move forward. They are to be prayed and thought through.

There are various causes for reversals in our lives. God sends them to discipline us; our enemies, to discourage us; and the devil, to defeat us. One way or the other, a set back does not mean you can’t come back. There are times when two steps backward can take us five paces forward. I know it is paradoxical, but sometimes seemingly lost ground can project us forward. Ask any broad jumper, and he will attest to this truth.

Though it is both embarrassing and humbling to be set back a grade, it is possible to come out of such a situation the wiser.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Speeding Past the Scenery

Years ago someone asked the late, Baptist preacher Vance Havner, if he thought Pentecostals would go to Heaven. He replied, “Yep, if they don’t run past it.” I feel that way about Bible reading; you can get something out of it if you don’t run through it. Some people never enjoy God’s beautiful scenery for speeding past it. It is wise to walk through the Bible rather than run through it.

There are those who pride themselves on how many times they’ve been through the Word. It’s not how many times you’ve been through the Bible, but how many times it’s been through you. In the old West a man could put notches on the handle of his gun, but that didn’t make him a gunfighter. Rapid reading will familiarize one with the Word, but it will never revolutionize his or her life.

I know three men who have each read through the Bible one hundred times each; one is highly legalistic, the second very critical, and the third is immoral. Certainly this is not true of the majority of rapid readers, but I’m simply trying to show it’s spiritually healthy to eat slowly for good digestion, as well as physically. Gather all the Manna you will, but if not used, it will rot.

There is nothing in the Bible about how many times a year one should read it, but we are told the early Believers were in it daily. Oswald Smith, the great missionary statesman said in his last years, “Since my conversion to Jesus Christ there has not been a day when I did not turn a leaf of my Bible.” Our Spiritual lives will never rise above our devotional life.

If you’ll eat God’s Word, you’ll not have to eat your own words.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Calf's in the Stall

God supplied the manna, but His people had to appropriate it (take for one’s own). They could have prayed all day in their tents and still gotten up from their knees with an empty stomach and in need of God’s fullness. And so it is in the spiritual realm.

God has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings. We need only to reach out the hand of faith and take them. Peace, joy, contentment, victory, rest, etc., are all ours…not for the asking, but for the taking. Prayer has to do with what you don’t have; appropriation has to do with what you do have.

Our problem is that of the prodigal son’s brother. After seeing how his father had blessed his younger brother, he said, “thou never gavest me…” to which the father replied, “Son…all that I have is thine.” He never enjoyed feeding off a fatted calf, simply because he never went to the stall to get one of the many his father had provided.

Christ has signed the check for all the spiritual blessings we’ll ever need. But we must cash it to experience the richness of the blessings.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

So What?

“For God so loved....” Here we have the biggest, little word in the Bible. So—a conjunction (a joining together); the little word that connects. Here is everything. Here is much in little. It’s the greatest news that ever came from Heaven to earth. He loved us so much it moved Him to give so much.

It staggers the mind that our God could love so much, and give so much, to a world that hates Him so much. Rather than condemn the loathsome, He commends His love.

When my daughters write me, they end their letters by saying, “I love you soooooo much!! They want me to be assured of the great love they have for me. This is what God did when He penned John 3:16. None of us should ever feel insecure and unloved after reading this text of all texts. Nothing you and I have ever done, or will ever do, will stop Him from loving us.

“Jesus loves me, this I know/For the Bible tells me so.” He loves us soooooooo much!

Friday, November 2, 2007

God Doesn't Become

Sometimes you will hear a well meaning person say, “God has become a stranger to me.” It’s important for such people to realize that God doesn’t become, we do. He changes not, but we are like the weather.

But, you say, “He seems so far off.” Well, who moved? God lives at the same eternal address He has always had. The Prodigal found his father at the same old familiar homestead where he had been born. The fact is we will find our Father where we left Him. He watched as His child went away, and He is lovingly watching for his or her return.

If you want to thrill a father’s heart, just let him get a telegram with these words, “Father, I’m coming home.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Critiquing the Critics

There is both a destructive and constructive criticism. The effect of the former is discouragement; the result of the latter is encouragement. The first always comes from a position of superior attitude and the second from a humble spirit. It is sad, but many times a Mr. Hyde is disguised in a Doctor Jeckel’s scrubs when feigning to help one correct something in his or her life.

But you can be certain who the imposter is. He will make you want to give up; while the other, who is interested only in your welfare will stimulate you to go on. It is always wise when offering criticism to offer it as though we were on the receiving end (Gal.6:1). You know, like our Lord said, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

Let us remind ourselves when sitting in the critic’s seat that what goes around comes around.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quotable Quotes

In my writings I often quote a wide range of sources. I don’t use them as authorities with whom I always agree but simply to get over a point in most cases. After all, Bible writers quoted things Satan said (Mt. 4). And don’t forget Paul, who quoted both secular poets (Acts 17:28) and the false prophets of his day (Titus 1:12). I quote such writers as C.S. Lewis, an Anglican; G.K. Chesterton, a Roman Catholic; and George MacDonald, a Congregationalist; along with many, many others. I believe I’d quote Daffy Duck if I thought it would help someone on to God!

Many people get a real blessing from my quotes, but a few are bothered by them. They quibble about my quotes. I have found such people limit themselves to only those writers and books with whom they agree. It is obvious that Paul was an avid reader. While incarcerated, he requested that Timothy bring his books. He also encouraged the young man to “give attendance to reading.” It is plain that Paul did not restrict his reading to the approved list of his peers.

I believe it was Plato who said something along the line of, “Every man knows something I do not know; therefore, every man is my teacher.” It is sad to meet people who will not learn from those with whom they disagree. I have found their libraries usually consist only of those writers within their own camp. They are self-imposed literary shut-ins, if you please. They’re intellectual recluses.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Inside-Out Thinking

I am a strong advocate of, as they say, “Thinking outside the box.” But I must qualify my statement by saying, you must first do a little thinking inside the box. If not, you’re no better than an “arm chair scholar.” And who wants to take advice from one who has never been out of his or her easy chair?

Solutions seem to be received more readily from one who can say, “I sat where they sat.” The blessed Lord Jesus was such a person. His life was not spent in isolation from civilization, but in participation with humanity. As the old timers would say, “He dwelt smack-dab in the middle of mankind.

To see life only from the outside leaves one heartless; but to see it only from the inside, helpless. I like what G.K.Chesterton said in his little book, “Wit and Wisdom.” Commenting along the lines we have been discussing he writes, “I would always trust the old wives’ fables against the old maids’ facts.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Novelty Doctrines

I am not a theologian, but I do profess to be a student of the Word of God. I’ve mined its pages for some fifty years now. There are numerous controversies that have arisen in the interpretation of the scriptures. The reason being, as my older son so ably states, “Because we have an infallible Bible, doesn’t mean we are.” We are still fallible creatures and subject to error.

Because some do not have the patience to keep digging, they give up before striking pay dirt. Such a person never discovers the true riches hid between the covers of God’s Book. Whenever men give up on the truth of the Father, invariably they turn to the traditions of their fathers; thus making the Word of God of none effect. This is where all the “novelty doctrines” find their inception.

Two such man-made fads have arisen from taking the extreme position of either John Calvin (the Sovereignty of God), or Jacobus Arminius (the free will of man). I find whenever you have two such extreme positions, keeping the pendulum in the middle is the safest and most sure way. Therefore I offer the following. It may not satisfy some, but I am comfortable with it (Ro.14:5b).

Paul affirms we were in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4a). But the same man states in Ro.16:7 that other brethren were in Christ before him. Therefore the one must be speaking positionally and the latter experimentally. One makes you safe, the other makes you saved. It seems to me (a fallible creature) that in eternity past we were only “In Christ” in the mind of God. Else we were never “In Adam.” And if that be the case, we were never lost.

Well that’s my two-cent’s worth. It may not sound like much, but it has been of great value to me through these long years of listening to the controversy on the subject.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eaten Up With Ourselves

And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto
the man whom the king delighteth to honour?
Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the
king delight to do honour more than to myself?”
Haman, like so many of us, was eaten up with himself. Such people think more highly of themselves than they ought. They think themselves to be something when they are nothing; so says the Apostle. When our candles go out, there will still be seven thousand reserved to continue dispensing light. We need not worry; the world will not be plunged into total darkness without our flicker.

Whenever we call it a day, I guarantee, it will be “business as usual” the following day. Those who think to the contrary are simply manifesting that they are low people with haughty thoughts. None of us is indispensable (absolutely necessary), but, rather, incidental (secondary or minor). As someone has said, “God’s workers die, but His work lives on.”

David knew this truth. He said, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind.” All the monuments and memorials will not change this fact. You know, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Life goes on. Certainly we will be called to remembrance from time to time by Christian loved ones, but their life will not be centered on us; that is reserved for Jesus Christ alone. You see, He will not share His rightful place with us in this life or the next.

Get used to being ordinary, only He is extraordinary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

*A Sad Commentary.

…thou hast…cast me behind thy back.” The only other time this phrase is used in Scripture is in Ezekiel, shortly before Israel went into captivity, where God says to His people, “…thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back.” In our text, God is speaking to Jeroboam. We are told he was “…a mighty man of valor…and industrious.” God had promised that if he lived for the Lord, He would give him “…all that thy soul desireth.” But, sad to say, like many of us today, he set his idols before God.

Whenever we put anything before God, it becomes an idol. And to accomplish this we must first cast God behind our backs, as Jeroboam did. How heartbreaking, after all God had done for, and given to, this man, for him to put God in the rear of the bus, so to speak. The Lord’s indictment of him was, “…thou hast not been as my servant David…who followed me with all his heart.” This ex-shepherd boy’s testimony was, “I have set the Lord always before me.”
Jesus told Satan to get behind Him; many Christians are telling God that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Follows the Other

Christians, who are considered by some to be a notch above their peers, seem to be falling into sexual sins on a regular basis. For the last few years hardly a week passes that you do not hear the tragic news of some professing saint who has committed, or is committing, the Scarlet Sin. I’m afraid it is becoming the accepted norm among Believers. The question being asked by many is, “How are the mighty fallen?”

In Webster’s Dictionary the word infidelity (unfaithfulness in marriage) follows the word infidel (one who does not believe). There is such a thing as an unbelieving Believer, you know. When one loses faith they lose their moral values also. I agree with C.S. Lewis when he says, “Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.” I do not personally believe anyone has ever committed physical adultery until first committing spiritual adultery. One follows the other.

The gospel singer, Steve Green, sings a song entitled, “Guard Your Heart.” Only an on-going, day-to-day, passionate love affair with Jesus Christ can guard us against this destructive sin. It is not fear of God’s chastening, or Him hurting us that will keep us from adultery. It is fearing we will hurt Him, the Lover of our souls, which will keep us from the arms of another.

If any happen to doubt the validity of this article, read the book of Hosea.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get Hold of Yourself

I believe it was Hudson Taylor who, when asked by a young man to pray he’d rise up at five in the morning for devotions, said, “No! Then added, “But I will pray God will help you after you put your first foot to the floor.” The very fact that God is said to be our helper throughout scripture shows we are in the equation. Most certainly the Lord will do for us what we cannot do ourselves, but you’ll have a long wait, if you’re waiting for Him to do for you what you can do yourself. Taken in the right context, the little quip, “God helps those who help themselves,” is true.

We need to take ourselves in hand from time to time. Yes, we need to give ourselves a good talking to, if you please. David said, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” We are told Solomon, “Communed with [his] own heart.” Nehemiah tells us, “I consulted with myself.” And the old apostle says, “I determined this with myself…” Sometimes we need to take ourselves by the nape of the neck and give ourselves a good shaking. Twice God tells Job in the midst of the mess he was in, when he was prone to pity himself, “Gird up now thy loins like a man.”

I guarantee you, if we refuse to use the faculties God has endowed us with, we need not expect Him to use them! It’s a sham spirituality that will not use a sanctified mind to figure a way out of one’s predicament.

*The Sect I Belong To.

“This sect...everywhere is spoken against.” In the real sense of its meaning today, I am not a Calvinist, though I believe in the sovereignty of God and election. Nor am I an Arminian, yet I believe, “whosoever will” is a legitimate offer. I am not a Dispensationalist, but I try to rightly dispense God’s Word. I am not a Fundamentalist, or an Evangelical, but I do believe in the fundamentals of the Faith, and the great historic doctrines of the Church. I am not in every sense a Baptist, but I am Baptistic in doctrine.

In other words, the only “sect” I belong to is the one that is known as “Christian.” This historic group takes in all the above beliefs—plus. By belonging only to this body I can love, and fellowship with, all God’s people, no matter what their name or the minor beliefs they subscribe to. The one and only issue is the doctrine of Christ. This is what John emphasized in his three small Epistles.

It’s a good and liberating feeling to know you no longer live in a pigeon hole with others just like you, continually rehashing the same old things, year after year. This type of person never grows spiritually or intellectually. What a blessing to listen to, and learn about, other points of view, from good and godly people of a different persuasion.

I want all men to know I am His disciple. But this can never be, till I love all God’s people. Nothing can separate me from God’s love (Rom.8). If I am to be God-like, nothing should separate my brothers and sisters from my love.

Rotting Within

Though I am not familiar with the name, there is a disease that rots every bone in a person’s body. There is also a spiritual disease that does the same. “Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones.” This was the cause of Saul’s demise. He couldn’t stand to see, or hear, of someone doing something better than he.

How we need to emulate “the man Moses [who] was very meek, above all the men which were upon the earth.” When Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, Joshua asked Moses to forbid them. And what was the great prophet’s reply? “Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”

‘Tis very hard to behold our own gifts without pride, and the gifts of others without envy.

Between the Slices

“A thousand mile journey begins with one step.” So says the Chinese proverb. How many of us want to leap-frog from where we are, to the place we desire to be. This is distinctly a characteristic of youth, but we need not think we seniors have completely shed this adolescent trait. It’s easy to forget each new venture has not only a beginning and ending, but there is a process sandwiched in between.

Plans, visions, desires, dreams, etc., all come to pass by patient continuance. Life is starting with the raw and ending with the finished product. The secret of obtaining the latter is producing to perfection. We need to constantly remind ourselves to do the next thing. If we bypass what’s next, we will end up at a dead end. No matter how long and tedious the journey, it’s worth it if you end up at your desired end.

As Good As It Gets.

No sincere person ever spent time in Christ’s presence and remained unchanged. Like the lifeless form of the man who revived after touching the bones of Elisha, so it is with all who come into contact with Jesus Christ. They are made alive.

In the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” Jack Nicholson’s character makes a profound statement that every Christian can relate to when applying it to our Lord. He says, “You make me want to be a better man.” Genuinely serious men and women, who have a real relationship with Christ, testify to the fact that He makes them want to be a better person.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those whom we come in contact with could go away saying this about us?

The Absence of Grace

The Bible tells us God is the “…God of all grace,” that His grace is sufficient, and that He “…giveth more grace.” Why, then, is it that there are times in the Christian’s life when there is an absence of grace? He promises not to put on us more than we can bear. Yet, at times, it seems we will be crushed under the load we carry.

For me, there seems to be a trio of reasons for this. First, we may not be under the umbrella of His will. Outside of it, we are open to all the elements of this world. Second, it may be the simple fact that we do no appropriate it. If God is said to “…give grace,” then we must reach out the hand of faith and take it to ourselves.

Lastly, the lies Satan tells us about our situations may hide grace in the shadows. At such times, the thing to do is put on the “armour of light,” showing him up for who and what he is, and shining the spotlight on God’s wonderful grace. For, you see, she is standing there watching and waiting for us to befriend her.

To be grace-less is to be helpless.

Our Precious Faith

“…to them that have obtained like precious faith with us…” In Peter’s two brief Epistles, he lists five things that are precious to a believer, one of which is our faith. I’m sure one reason it is so called is because it unites the weakest, as well as the strongest Christian, to Christ.

Precious faith? Yes, but we must remember, the more precious a thing is, the more counterfeits there are of it. There is a counterfeit faith that cannot quiet the heart or conquer one’s fears. We are told, there is a feigned faith as well as an “unfeigned” one. There is effectual and ineffectual faith. There is an operative working faith and a workless one. Let’s make sure that ours is not a fruitless faith.

*The Right Translation

A group of learned Bible teachers were debating which translation of the Scriptures was best. A young man in their group startled them by stating that he preferred his mother’s translation. He then explained that she translated the Bible into everyday living.

The Apostle Paul tells us that each saint’s life is, “...known and read of all men...” Our individual lives are the only Bibles some will ever read. If that be the case, many have a very poor translation of the Scriptures.

There are thousands of large-print Bibles in circulation; would to God we had that many large-print Christians.

Sinai or Sion

“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest...(for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touched the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion.”

I, for one, would not build my house at the foot of a volcanic mountain that is famous for its eruptions. Who wants to live in constant gloom, uncertainty, and fear? Many Christians build their homes at the foot of Mt. Sinai. I choose to build my house at the foot of Mt. Sion. At Mt. Sinai there is no place for a sinner; at Mt. Sion there is no place for anyone else.

It’s wonderful to wake each morning knowing that the grace of God, with all its mercy, will be flowing down from Mt. Calvary into my room. That I no longer have to fear and quake at the thought of the fiery lava of the law from Sinai, with its demands and condemnation. I like the way Jeremiah put it: “...in the height of Zion...shall flow...the goodness of the Lord.”

There are two mountains: Sinai or Calvary
There are two covenants: Old or New
There are two husbands: Law or Grace
There are two principles: Work or Gift
To choose anything on the left is to choose everything on the left;
To choose anything on the right is to choose everything on the right

Something Old, Something New

“And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many...who were ancient men, that had seen the first house...wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy” (Ezra 3:11-12).

Sounds like our day, doesn’t it? The younger generation rejoicing over this new thing that is happening, and the older ones weeping, evidently over the fact that it wasn’t like the old days. There is a two-fold danger in every new generation: that we should disregard the old for the new, and on the other side, we’re told anything new should be discontinued for the old. The truth is, we need both the old and the new. God help us to cease this tug-of-war. We are told to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

Hebrews tells us Jesus was a “new way.” He upset the traditionalists by some of His unorthodox tactics. For they said of Him, “We never saw it on this fashion.” Yet our Lord constantly honored the old while initiating the new. He “...bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”

In Revelation we’re told in Heaven we’ll sing the old songs...“the song of Moses.” But it also says we’ll sing “....a new song.”

The Starting Point

“Thrust out a little from the land...Launch out into the deep.” We need to be careful how we use words. We say of certain people that he or she is a shallow person. But notice Jesus went from a shallow place to a deep one. To be shallow is not always a sign of being superficial. Remember: the fathomless ocean has a shoreline from which one enters into its depths.

Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby. (Oswald Chambers)

Tribulation

“...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” This is the other side of the coin of Christianity. So many speakers and writers are drawing a happy face on being a Christian in our day. I personally believe we need to get back to presenting the rough side of our Faith. The flip side of joy, peace, and happiness is chastening, attacks from unseen satanic powers, a daily war with the flesh, periodic times of darkness, resisting despondency, and all the other negatives that soft, velvety saints cringe to hear of.

Being a Christian is not a bed of roses; it has its problems. No believer is exempt from the ills of humanity. Suffering, arguments, family squabbles, temptations, bad habits, spurts of anger, and a score of other unpleasantries are our lot in this world. We are not promised a trouble free life. No Christian should think it strange when he passes through tribulation. Some spend all their time diagnosing themselves when trouble comes. With morbid introspection, they skin themselves to the raw, thinking they have done something wrong, not realizing God is grooming them for something greater.

If we were kept from tribulation, then we would miss all God’s benefits in tribulation---glory, comfort, and joy.

What't the Point?

“…for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Jesus Christ practiced what He preached. He could say more in a few words than the vain babblers could if they talked all day. He wrote what He wanted to say, briefly, while others needed volumes to express their thoughts. Many words, whether in speaking or writing, are not necessarily meritorious; they can be monotonous.

Certainly, our Lord was trying to teach us all something when He said, “But let your conversation be Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” Are we to learn from this that He would have us get to the point? As the 17th Century nun said in her prayer, “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.”

The Old Testament prophets of Baal talked all day and never did get to the point. Elijah got his across in a brief sixty-three words.

You don’t eat the husk, but the kernel; remember that when you speak or write.

*The Poor Rich

“According to your faith be it unto you.” We are not going to enjoy the spiritual blessings of God that He has provided for us by just longing, hoping, wishing, or even asking for them. We must appropriate them. That is, take them for our own by faith. Facts turn into benefactors when appropriated.

God provided the manna, but each person had to take it up for themselves. Some gathered more; others, less. The difference was not in the bestowal but in the appropriation. An unnumbered amount of dull, drab, and defeated lives have been transformed by simply learning the art of appropriation, making our own what God has given us.

Heaven’s warehouses are full and overflowing because of unclaimed blessings. (Eph.1:3)

Our Prodigal Children

“I will arise and go to my father...” When these words were spoken, a broken hearted father was unaware of this life-transforming decision made by his son. The son had been in a far country sinning. While some parents were asking the question, “Why did my child go wrong,” this father was watching, waiting and asking, “When will my boy come home?” We know this because he was ready for him when he did arrive.

Cornelius Van Til says, “[T]he prodigal is an illustration of the inability of the covenant-breaker to drown out the voice of the Living God...It required a constant act of suppression to forget the past. But that very act of suppressing itself keeps alive the memory of the past.”

The far country cannot silence, the tender teaching of a loving parent the prodigal had as a child.

Our Sailing Companion

“And there arose a great storm…” Storms are a part of life. This is also true in the spiritual realm. They arise, it seems, out of nowhere, and can be pretty severe at times. It is during these occasions, when the skies are black, the wind boisterous, and the waves over our heads, that we need the assurance that Jesus is with us. This is one of the true meanings, I think, of fellowship.

With Jesus close by, though it does not guarantee our exemption from “a great storm,” it does qualify us for seeing them turn into “a great calm.” David had experienced this years earlier and recorded it for the disciples as well as our learning. “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.” He goes on to say, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”

Don’t tell God how big the storm is; tell the storm how big God is.

The Power of Pentecost

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Under the guise of “rightly dividing the word,” dead orthodox Bible teachers and Christians would have us believe the early Church was indwelt, sealed, and baptized into the Body of Christ on this memorable day. This, they tell you, from hindsight, using Paul’s Epistles as proof. But the apostle to the Gentiles was not even saved until sometime later.

If you want to understand Pentecost, you must first understand what it meant to those early believers at the time it was happening. The only thing in their minds was the last words of Jesus before leaving them and returning to Heaven, which were, “…behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you…ye [shall] be endued with power from on high.”

Don’t allow these powerless teachers, clothed in lambskins to pull the wool over your eyes, by saying Pentecost cannot be repeated. That it was a one-time thing, only found in Acts 2. Here they stand corrected, for in Acts 9:15 we’re told by Peter, “…the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” The Holy Ghost still falls in power upon God’s people. How do I know this? I’ve been there on occasions when it happened.

There is no Pentecost without “plenty-cost.”

*The Power of Thinking Right

“...think on these things...” A liberal theologian wrote a popular book some years ago entitled The Power of Positive Thinking. Well, I’m afraid the conservative scholar, Paul the Apostle, beat him to it by a couple of thousand years! Paul lists eight positive things we are to think about and promises peace of mind to those who do.

The Bible teaches we are what we think. Right living is a result of right thinking and vice versa. For example, David tells us we can think wrong about God: “...Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself.” Naaman illustrated this when he said, “I thought...” But he was all wrong about how God would deal with his problem. A carnal mind cannot have spiritual thoughts.

If you don’t bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, then those thoughts will hold you in captivity.

Questions or Answers

“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…” Dr. Walter Wilson was a tentmaker, a medical doctor, and preacher. But his most lasting legacy is that of being one of the 20th Century’s greatest witnesses for Christ. He used to say that modern day “soul-winners” talked too much, that it is the sinner who is to do most of the talking.

Generally speaking, a witness answers questions; he doesn’t ask them. The Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved.” The rich, young ruler enquired of our Lord, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” And Peter was asked by the Jews at Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Let’s get back to letting the Holy Spirit do His preliminary work in the hearts of men. If we do, I guarantee we will not have to go around asking them questions; they’ll be asking us. We should not be overly anxious to pick “green fruit.” Or, as the old-time evangelist, Billy Sunday, used to say, “Don’t pluck the chicken till the water’s boiling.”

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

*Proof's in the Puddin'

“And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus knows our hearts; but we don’t. Thus the necessity for our being proven. We’ll never know what we’re made of till we’ve been in the fire. Proof is in the puddin’, and we’re the puddin’!

There is never uncertainty on Jesus’ part of what He can, and will do, and there should not be any on ours. If our faith is not tested, how else will we know if we have any? Peace needs a storm; victory, a battle; and joy, sadness, if we are to have sweet assurance of these attributes being in our lives. The bad always runs along-side with the good. It’s not the absence of these dreaded things, but their presence, that proves our worth.

Anything untried is uncertain.

Pretending in Prayer

“…give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” David pretended to be something he wasn’t before Achish, King of Gath (1Sam.21), but in the presence of God, he didn’t play-act in prayer. He was not a sinless man, but he certainly was a sincere one. Is it not sad that the act we put on before others, we oft times continue before God?

How prone we are to be spiritual pretenders. It is important for not only our brethren to see us as spiritual, but also our God. But feigned prayers are fruitless prayers. If what comes out of our mouths doesn’t originate from the heart, it is only so much hot air. It may puff us up, but it will never build us up.

There are two extremes in prayer, and either can make one look spiritual. At one end of the spectrum, God is used as a “genie in a bottle.” Whatever they wish for, they believe they will get. But at the other end, those who proudly say they don’t ask for anything, but leave it all up to God, are just as much in error. Such seeming commitment can be a cop-out for a lack of faith.

The truth of the matter is, there are times when we are to ask and receive; and there are times when we are to commit and be content. Only those who are close to God will be able to discern which is which.

If in prayer we said only what we meant, they would be much shorter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

*Adjustable Lives

Just as God told us there would always be seasons in the physical world, so it is in the Spiritual realm. The Christian life is a seasonal one. Therefore we need to learn to adjust. For example, as to the first mentioned, you’d better not wear flimsy summer clothes in bitter winter if you know what’s good for you. Concerning the latter, there is a season for fiery trials as well as triumphing.

Many believers cannot bring themselves to adjust to certain situations because of the simple fact they think it will make them look inconsistent. They do not realize that God has only a few eternal principles that are unchangeable. In all other matters He not only says we ought to, but expects us to, change and adapt.

One meaning for adjust in Webster’s Dictionary is, “to change as to fit.” Far too many Christians are mal-adjusted. Again, Webster’s definition of this word is, “unable to adjust to the stresses of daily life.” A well-balanced child of God has a good variety of garb in his or her closets. And they alter their lives as needed. They do not wear raincoats when the sun is shining, nor go bare foot in the snow. They modify according to conditions.

The wise man said, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Let us not be out-of-season!

Monday, October 8, 2007

*Snail Christians

The life of every child of God should emulate that of a snail. That is, as our lives advance in years there should be less of us. Toward the end of his life and ministry, rugged John said, " I must decrease.” The old Baptist did not waste his time looking at himself through a high-powered, magnifying lens of a telescope; he preferred gazing through the opposite end.

This was the way it was with all those who stood as giants in God’s sight. David saw himself as a “flea.” And we see how Paul’s self-life melted away through the years. Early on in his Christian life he said, “I am the least of the apostles.” But as time passes we hear him say, “[I] am less than the least of all saints.” And as he approaches the finish line of life he humbly states that he was, “the chief of sinners.”

There are no soloists in heaven, only a choir that is made up of “Common Christians”; no “big fish” in a little pond, just a lot of “little ones” in the big pond. I have found seasoned saints, who, when at the eternity’s brink, have only one desire-- to be “hid in heaven.” To them there is only One Person worthy of beholding, and to them that is the dear Lamb of God.”

Saturday, October 6, 2007

*Christian Pagans

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." These are the last words of an old man to his "little children" (a term of endearment). His desire for them in the world in which they lived was to be victorious over-comers. The way in which they could achieve this, says the aged saint, was to keep themselves from idols. That is, anything that occupied the place of God. If it demanded first place in their lives, it was an idol. All their devotion, affection, time, and energy were to be given, first and foremost, to the Person of God. Not to anything else, even if it was spiritual, and came from God Himself.

Many commentators believe John was only speaking to the people of his day who had come out of pagan idolatry. The Puritans applied our text to Rome's relics. But it goes much deeper than this. Ezekiel speaks of God's people in his day who gave an external pretense of being spiritual, but who had "set up their idols in their heart." All human substitutes, whether made by man's hands or created in the mind, are idols. By the way, spiritual idolatry is the greatest of all sins.

"The dearest idol I have known, what e're that idol be, help me tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

His Commandment's are His Enablements

We are told God spoke to Ezekiel saying, “Stand upon thy feet.” Then the prophet records for us these words, “And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet.” Here we find God’s Commandment’s are His Enablements.

This, no doubt, is what Paul was attempting to get across when he penned, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He understood if God willed it, then he could do it (Phil.2:13). God taught this truth from the beginning. In Genesis we find, “God planted,” but it was Adam who was to, “Dress and keep it.”

A dear handicapped preacher friend of mine used to say, “Can’t, is not in the handicapped dictionary”; neither should it be a part of a Christian’s vocabulary, when in reference to one of God’s Commands to him. If God commands us to jump, our reply should be, “How high?” When David was told by his Lord to do so, he said, “By my God have I leaped over a wall.”

Some of us need to get to jumpin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

*Job's Description of Man

The old patriarch Job depicts man as, “…a wild ass’s colt.” I agree with St. Francis of Assisi when he referred to his body as, “Brother Ass.” C.S. Lewis, in commenting on this statement, says, “Ass is right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey. It is a useful, sturdy, lazy, obstinate, patient, lovable, and infuriating beast; deserving now the stick and now a carrot; both pathetically and absurdly beautiful.”

It is interesting that Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the back of an untamed ass’s colt. Thus we see, whether it is ourselves, a loved one, or friend, it is Christ and Christ alone Who is able to subdue our animal nature. We can display the good side of Doctor Jekyll for a time, but Mr. Hyde will always show his beastly face sooner or later. Only by yielding to the over-powering presence of Christ in our lives can our wildness be domesticated.

I’m not as concerned with, “The Taming of the Shrew,” as I am the taming of this saint.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

*The Divine Artist

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them…who walk…after the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit never condemns; He convinces.” The devil leaves one with hopelessness; the Spirit of God, with hopefulness.

The hater of our souls draws a picture of a forest with no way out, leaving us to wander in endless dismay. On the other hand, the Lover of our souls always paints a road out of the dark denseness into the glorious light.

God promises His people of old that He will give them “…a door of hope” when they’re in the valley. No wonder the shepherd boy could say, “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow…I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”

A Christian walks through the valley; he doesn’t stay there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

*One of a Kind

To whom and to what will ye liken Me? This question was asked by God in olden times through His prophet Isaiah. All comparisons fall on their face and crumble, like Dagon of old, when put next to Jehovah God! Mankind has tried from their creation to make a god that is His equal, but their deities always end up being impotent in the presence of the Omnipotent One.

“In the beginning God…” He is the eternal original, for there was nothing before Him. As they say, “He is one of a kind.” And they did not throw away the mold, for there was no mold, nor anyone around to discard it! It would be the understatement of all time to say, “God is truly a rarity.” Nevertheless, it is the only way these lips of clay can verbalize His worth to me. You’ll never find His like in time or eternity. Is it any wonder David stood in awe of Him?

“I am God, and there is none like me.” To which I say, “Amen and amen, Lord!”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

*Learning Latin.

Anyone who is familiar with books by the old divines is familiar with the Latin abbreviation, D.V. (Deo Volente), which means, “God willing.” It is used frequently in their writings, especially the Puritans.

But often, many of us speak, even boasting at times, of the things we are going to do, without ever inserting God into the equation. James tells us, in all our plans, we ought to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

When making promises and commitments to others it is essential, a D.V. (God willing) is inserted in our conversation or contract. No Christian has a guaranteed claim on anything in life that is not stamped D.V.

*Condensed Lives

One of the meanings of the word “condense” is “to reduce to a shorter form; compact.” The Bible is a condensed Book. It does not tell the whole in any of its character’s biographies. Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Paul, Mary—nowhere will you find a daily, detailed account of their lives, nor of anyone else’s. Even of our blessed Lord, John tells us in his Gospel, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

Because of misguided teaching, “over-zealous” zeal, or a misunderstanding of the Bible’s purpose, many have become condensed Christians. Bible Christians were not always at church and doing “spiritual” things. They changed diapers, cleaned house, played with the children, went to the store, etc. As a friend put it in an article recently, “Life is what you do when you don’t have anything else to do.” Or, to put it another way, take time to smell the flowers.

Life is a marathon, not a hundred-yard dash.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

*Those Crisis Times

“And there arose a great storm…And he arose…and there was a great calm.” He is pre-eminently, the Christ of every crisis. There is no situation that can arise that He cannot control. “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves are still.”
A crisis does not make us; it shows us. It reveals in us what is already there— fear or faith. And, generally, sad to say, it is the former. It is during these crisis times we find that we are what we have been becoming. As my mentor Dr. Hankins would say, "It's humbling to find out you're not as spiritual as you thought you were."

But not only do these crucial times show us who we are, but, more importantly, what He can do. One of Webster’s definitions of this word is “a turning point.” A crisis can turn a crippled person into a completed one, if he or she turns to Christ.

Nothing takes God off guard, for He is always on guard.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

*Blessing the Blesser

The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us…he will bless…he will bless…He will bless…Ye are blessed of the Lord…we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore” (Psl.115). Would you say David was conscious of God’s blessings? It was for this reason he blessed the Blesser. Paul apparently was a great reader of the Psalms and must have picked up on this thing of blessing the Blesser. In Ephesians he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
He is no pauper who has God’s blessings upon his life. It is written, “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”

What a joy to one’s soul to realize that throughout eternity, we will still be blessing the Blesser with that great Heavenly host: “And every creature which is in heaven…heard I [say], Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

“To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them; to bless Him for miseries is the way to remove them.” (Puritan saying)

The Big Picture

Most of us cannot see clearly in the spiritual realm. It’s apparent we need a second touch from the Lord. Our problem is not seeing what’s up close, but what is afar off. Because of our pride, trials, and suffering, we generally keep things close. We are not too interested in things or people unless they relate to and profit us in some way personally.

But God’s Kingdom takes in more than just those things around us—our family, church, town, or country. It encompasses the entire universe for both time and eternity. His eternal plan includes not only us, but the animal creation, plants, angels, good and evil, the galaxies, etc. His Kingdom is all-inclusive. In other words, it’s bigger than you and I.

Most Christians spend their lives thinking it’s all about them. This is a result of looking through the wrong end of the telescope. For example, many Christians and pastors cannot imagine anyone other than “their own kind” in their assemblies. They do not realize the Church of God, as found in the Scriptures, is international, multi-cultural, and yes, inter-racial. But spiritual pygmies can’t see God’s big picture. They spend their lives looking at a few trees and never see the beautiful vast forest.

You can always tell when we need to visit our Heavenly Optometrist; it’s when we see ourselves as a big part of God’s little plan.

*Before Moving On

“…let us go on…not laying again the foundation of repentance…” If these Hebrew believers were guilty of not going on in building upon their foundation, then we modern day Gentile believers are guilty of just the opposite. We bypass the foundational in our rush to get to what we believe are more important things in the Christian life. Is it any wonder, then, present day saints, who are in such a hurry to build their spiritual beach cottages, erect them on sand? And it’s no surprise when their lives crumble under the slightest adverse breeze.

Many saints today need not go on, but rather, step back. I hear Christians say to those who have “blown it,” so to speak, that they need to “move on” with their lives. This is true, considering one has first righted any wrongs and corrected their mistakes. Jesus said we are to do certain things but not at the expense of leaving other things undone. It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

*An Old-Fashioned House Call

Webster defines optimism as “the belief that good ultimately prevails over evil,” and a pessimist is one who believes that “evil in life outweighs the good.” To believe things on earth are going to get worse before getting better is not pessimism but realism.

Therefore, I guess I would be considered a pessimistic optimist. The one being only temporary but the latter, final and lasting. In other words, I believe this world is cancerous to the core and getting worse. And only by the Great Physician making a personal house call can it be cured.

Politicians and religious leaders, no matter how well-intentioned, who attempt the intricate operation of removing this malignant tumor will end up embarrassed, showing themselves to be physicians without healing power.

Christ’s coming is the only cure-all for the world’s ills.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

*The Realm of Possibilities

“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” The qualifying word for accomplishing the impossible is the little word “with.” If you’re “with men,” you’ll never experience the impossible; but if one is "with God”, impossibilities become realities. The instrument that links us up to this omnipotence is called faith. Faith makes the impossible possible.

But faith operates only in the sphere of the will of God as found in the Word of God. It is not possible to exercise faith for anything beyond the will of God. Faith functions in cooperation with God. So, if a man is “with God,” he can be all that he ought to be and do all that he ought to do. Augustine said, “Give what thou commandest, then command what thou wilt.”

“Within the realm of possibilities” is a term never used by those who have cast their lot with God.

Monday, September 17, 2007

*God Has No Needs

In his sermon on Mars Hill, Paul tells us, “God...made the world and all things therein...Neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though he needed anything…” What a humbling truth—God doesn’t need us.

But, though He does not need us, still He wants us. My children, when they were very small, would bring me inexpensive gift tokens, such as a wildflower or a piece of candy. Did I need them? No. Did I want them? Yes! They would kiss me good-bye when I went to work. Did I need it....did I want it?

Our Almighty God does not need our frailties, but, as our loving Heavenly Father, He wants our affections. “We are his offspring.” No father ever existed that wanted the love of His children more than our Father God wants ours. He does not need our attention and affection today; but He wants them.

When it comes to God, every day should be “Fathers Day.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

*Following Those Who Follow Christ

It is written that Jehoshaphat “…walked in the first ways of his father David.” And as a result of this, the Lord was with him. We are told on different occasions in the Old Testament that certain saints followed the Lord, “as,” or “like,” David had. Jehoshaphat was one such person. But it is interesting to note the marked distinction he placed on David’s former and latter life, “…in the first ways.” David’s last days were not as good as the first.

Most, if not all Christians begin well, but we do not all finish that way. Though it need not be, the “first ways” in many lives were the best ways. And with some, their “first love” was their strongest love. Time can bring corrosion to a life if not diligently attended to on a daily basis.

Matthew Henry said, “It is good to be cautious in following the best men, lest we step aside for them.” Paul himself limits anyone’s emulation of his life when he said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” But that was the extent of it, the qualifying mark being, “…as I follow Christ.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

*Tomorrow Never Comes

Someone said, “All our tomorrows start today.” In other words, today is your tomorrow. We are not promised a tomorrow, but we are a today. Therefore the Bible admonishes us, “[B]ehold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day…” When I pastored, I’d tell my people, “When you know what God wants you to do, do it; if you wait till the morrow, the devil will talk you out of it.” I’m gonna, never did anything!

There is a lot of truth in the little quip, “There is no time like the present.” Procrastinators are void of accomplishments. A good philosophy is always begin from where you’re at. Many postpone things with the excuse that they are waiting on God; it seems to have never crossed their minds that God may be waiting on them. Everything in life that has worth is worth doing now. My sainted mother use to say, “Don’t wait till you bury me to send flowers.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

*Those Narrow People

In terms that a six-year-old child can understand, Jesus Christ says, “I am the way…” Not, “A way,” but, “The way.” The devil is an expert illusionist. You may think all roads lead into that Celestial City, but only one will get you there. You’ll find to your dismay all the others are deceptive by-passes. There is only one road that will lead Home. If this be not the case, Jesus Christ was either a willful deceiver or a deluded fool. He loses all credence even as a good man, much less the God Man. You can no longer hold that He is one of many ways. Either He is, or He isn’t, the only way!

The entire book of Hebrews is about Jesus being the only way to God. And in the book of Acts the apostles preached there was salvation in no other name than Jesus. Paul emphatically stated that there is no mediator between God and man, other than Christ Jesus. The Bible makes clear that there is a way which seems right to man, but death is at the end of it. Jesus tells us there are two roads, and warns that the majority are on “…the broad way that leads to destruction.” There are “few” says He, who are traveling the “narrow” road. By the way, you can always pick out those on the narrow one: the mass on the wide road scornfully refer to them as, “narrow people.”

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bedtime Prayers.

I remember a story I heard when newly converted that has governed my prayer life for over half a century. It seems a great old prayer warrior was sharing a room with a novice Christian in a Bible conference. The youthful believer had heard the reputation of the elder’s prayer life, and so he undressed slowly that he might observe the sacred sight of the old man agonizing in prayer by his bedside. But to his amazement the aged one got into bed, pulled the sheets up, and as he turned his night light out said, “Good night, Jesus.” The young man then confessed his surprise to the aged one, telling him what he had expected; to which the silver headed saint replied, “Son, when you talk to the Lord all day there is nothing left to say at bedtime but, “Good night, Jesus”.

A.W. Pink says, “Wordy prayers are usually windy ones.” To be sure, Jesus connected "long prayers" with those with whom we would not like to be associated. Our Lord tells us we are not heard for our “…much speaking.” Brevity seems to be best. A lot of short prayers with meaning are better than one long prayer without significance. The prophets of Baal prayed from morning to evening and the heavens were brass unto them. Elijah’s prayer contained only sixty three words, but the fire fell.

When Christ was teaching His disciples to pray, He put all they should say into five short verses (Matt.6:9-13). Evidently God meant the wise man’s admonition, “…let thy words be few,” to cover our prayer life also. Jesus’ all night prayer was the exception to the rule.