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.”