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.”