Thursday, January 31, 2008

Contemporary Christians

“And behold, there talked with him (Jesus) two men, which were Moses and Elias…Peter said to Jesus…let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said” If we are not careful, we too can put saints that are far removed from our generation on a level a notch or two above our present one.

The advantage of the “old-timers” was that they didn’t have to rub shoulders with us on a daily basis. Personally, I believe that there are those among God’s people today who, if we looked back in hindsight from the next generation, we would also put on a pedestal. We are told Moses and Elias were “men.” Yes, they were used of God to be a blessing. Still, they were only men of clay. Moses had his fits of anger, and Elias had his bouts with depression.

Contemporary Christians give themselves a bad rap at times, because well-intentioned writers elevate saints of by-gone years to positions that would cause those folk to blush, if they were here. Let us put on God’s specks, so to speak, when we look at others from the past. Then we will see men, not as trees, but as they actually are…men. And, to our delightful surprise, we will find they were people pretty much like you and me.

The only reason some hold contemporary Christianity in contempt is familiarity.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Wonder of God

I’ve observed that more and more Christians and ministers are frantically trying to fit God into our culture to make Him acceptable with today’s society. It is nauseating to both watch and hear professing believers making apologies for who God is and for what He does. The result of this is the humanization of God. Whenever we put God on our level, we are no longer awed by His attributes. It seems these miniature, would-be, pseudo-theologians think they can explain everything about Jehovah. But by attempting this, they take away the marvelous mystery of the Divine. What they miss!

We are plainly told in Scripture that God has secret things that belong to Him and Him alone. But those things He has seen fit to reveal, belong to us, and we can pass them down to our children. If there was ever a man who knew God intimately, it was darling David. Yet, when he wrote concerning certain things pertaining to God, he said, “…neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” He goes on to say in another place, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

David was content with letting God be God; and so should we! If you don’t, you’ll lose the wonderful wonder of it all.

Flat Tires and Suffering

I have known groups of Christians who believed that any type of suffering in the Christian’s life was punitive. That the person must have done something wrong, and God was punishing him or her. If they have a flat tire, the Lord, evidently, is chastening them for some sin they have committed. It never dawns upon them; tires get old and threadbare, and need to be replaced from time to time!

These dark-natured advisors tell the afflicted saints to scrape their insides until they come up with something, even if that something is not mentioned in the Bible as being sin. To be sure, there is a divine chastening, but God will not leave one in doubt as to the reason for His correcting.

People like Job’s friends can never see past their morbid mentality. It never occurs to them that a loving God is permitting suffering in one’s life to conform him or her to the image of His dear son. That God is whittling away on them, until He sees characteristics of His Beloved. So, let the chips fall where they may, just as long as there is a miniature image of Jesus left standing!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fragile

The word “frail” is used only once in the Bible. David asked the Lord to make known to him his frailty; that is, how weak he actually was and how easily the earthen vessel could be broken. It’s interesting to note that in David’s autobiography (Psalms) he speaks so often of his sorrow, sickness, pain, and afflictions. I heard a preacher jestingly say once, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it!” It is evident from David’s life, God answered his prayer request.

It is important for all of us to have our frailties revealed to us, for we are so prone to think of ourselves as indomitable, thereby making ourselves independent entities. But once God brings a crack in the vessel, we are more apt to put our fragile lives in His hands for safe keeping.

Interestingly, earlier in his life, robust David killed lions, bears, and giants with his own hands; but later on, when the frailties of life set in, he needed others that God sent his way to help him in killing his giants. Our frailties not only make us realize our dependence upon God but also on one another. “No man liveth to himself.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

*Surprised By God

Jacob said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see thy face: and lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.” God surprised Jacob by doing something for him that he never expected. Our God is full of surprises. It starts at the commencement of our Christian life. It continues throughout our pilgrimage, and I guarantee you, at the conclusion of our days, there awaits each of us the surprise of all surprises.

One of the most exciting things in life is the element of surprise. From early years to old age, it plays a great part in our lives. What young person is not thrilled by a surprise party? And what elderly person’s heart does not leap when their loved ones give them a surprise visit.

God knew how wonderful surprise would be to His children, and so it was not left out of our spiritual life. God delights to surprise us. This being true, I have a sneaking suspicion that God has a big surprise for some of us in the very near future. What an exciting thing to anticipate!

When you are pleasantly surprised, don’t forget Who planned it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Selective Love

“Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren...” I read recently of a preacher friend, now ninety, holding a conference in an elaborate hotel in Orlando, Florida. At his own expense, he invited various leaders of different Baptist groups to this meeting. The purpose? To teach them to love each other as well as all “good Baptists.”

As I read this article, not only did my heart sink within me, but I was embarrassed. I personally belong to an independent evangelical Baptist church, but it almost made me ashamed of the name, until I realized these people do not represent all of us. Jesus did not tell me to love “good Baptists,” but all the brethren, good and bad. My love extends to personal friends who are Church of God, Reformed, Brethren, Presbyterian, Charismatic, non-denominational, etc. I want to be sure my love includes “all the brethren” and not a select group.

Paul tells us we are “taught of God (this occurs nowhere else in the New Testament) to love one another.” They did not need special instruction; God directly taught them in their own hearts. It was a secret and silent instruction in the deep recesses of their souls. Therefore, they needed no man to teach them this.

The infant believer is born with a love for all his brothers and sisters.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Sometimes of Life

“Christians first…” I have a little saying: “I’m some things some of the time; but I’m a Christian all the time.” A Christian is a person with many hats but only one head. No matter what head-gear adorns me, under it is always a Christian.

It is important we realize we can only wear one hat at a time. A personal illustration may help here. I used to wear my “preacher’s hat” when I was playing with my children, but what they really wanted was for me to wear the hat that says “Dad” on it. As a result of this, they suffered, getting only a part of me because of my divided mind.

Let’s make sure that the hat we wear for each occasion is appropriate. A football star’s wife doesn’t want him to wear his helmet when he’s taking her for walk through the park. When we are with a person, we need to be with that person. Make sure you wear the right hat for the right person.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

*Shame on Us

“…the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Not wiser, overall, but, “in their generation.” Not in eternal things but in the temporal things of time, we are outdone by them. They excel us in such things as the handling of finances (text), skills in their trade, having high expectations, etc. They are prudent and industrious. They seize ever opportunity; no bargain passes them by. They are conscious of improving themselves both physically and intellectually. How different things would be for many of us believers if we were as diligent.

Another area in which they excel us, is not just employment, but enjoyment. We are told God has given us richly all things to enjoy, but we will continue to be miserable in this world, until we realize the Lord okays us using it, as long as we don’t abuse it. Our problem is we have departmentalized our Christian lives—one sacred and the other secular. But all ground is holy ground to a child of God. We can be as Spiritual when we play as when we pray.

Truly spiritual people can enjoy many of the carnal things of this world; but the carnal will never enjoy the Spiritual.

Monday, January 14, 2008

*A Trio of Blesseds

“Blessed be the LORD God…which sent thee…And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou.” Abigail’s admonishment kept David from taking a terrible turn in his life. The fact that the Lord used a “weaker vessel” to reprove David did not stop him from heeding her words. He recognized God's use of different instruments to checkmate his plans.

David did not only take this wise reproof patiently, but thankfully. This is seen in his trio of blessings. First, and foremost, for God bringing it, then for the advice itself, and finally for the one who gave it. How different he was from blinded Balaam, whose “…anger was kindled” against the very one who was attempting to help him. Is it not interesting, indeed, that God used a feminine gender to stop David, and also to halt Balaam? (Num.22:23, 25, 25, 27, 28, 33).

Whether it is her, him, them, or it, the issue is, “Is it the Lord speaking?”

Friday, January 11, 2008

*The Time in Between

“And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” “For ye [us] have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” The early believers, spoken of in the Hebrew letter, were on the verge of giving up. Their endurance was running out. Their faith was faltering. They had not seen God’s promise to them fulfilled.

The reason for their dilemma (and ours) is that we do not realize there is a time lapse between God’s promise and His performance of that promise. There is a parenthesis of an indefinite time period between them. In between these two, we are to have patience. Remember that “whatsoever things were written aforetime [about Abraham, etc.] were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
The Divine advice to us is, “Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Our blessed Lord in His last words to His disciples, before He went away were, “Wait for the promise...”

“The Being of God may as well fail, as the promise of God.”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

*Nestling in the Nest

A little girl’s memory verse was, “I will not leave you comfortless.” But when nervously quoting it before her Sunday School class, it came out, “I will not leave you comfortable.” We smile, but actually, both are true. We love the one but loathe the other. No young person likes to be stirred out of their secure nest by a parent. Nor is the Christian parent desirous for their Heavenly Father to destroy their nest of niceties.

The prophet of old tells us, “As the eagle stirreth up her nest...” The eagle has a strong affection for her little eaglets. Because of this, she not only protects and provides for them but also educates them to fly. They are heavenly creatures. They were never meant to wallow in the murk and mire of this world as a sow.

Whenever God takes away the comforts of our nests and begins to stir up things, it’s because He wants us to soar to new heights. Heights we could never attain or enjoy nestled in our nest made from the cheap things of this world.

Never fear to venture out of the nest. The everlasting wings will be there to bear you up (Ex.19:4).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

*What's Your Position in Prayer?

My title is a play on words; I purposely used the little preposition in rather than on. The question is not seeking your intellectual opinion on prayer, but your literal physical position in prayer. This may sound like a novelty question, but it is much more serious than some may imagine.

From its inception, Christianity has had those who emphasized external, religious rituals over internal, Spiritual substance. So much so that if one did not adhere to these dogmatist’s rules and regulations they were considered anathema. Protocol is a must if you’re to live among these traditionalists in peace.

Bible Christians would have a difficult time today fitting into these diehard’s systematic regulations. True, many saints of the scriptures knelt when they prayed, such as Jesus, those in Mary’s house, and Paul. But don’t attempt to make this the lone way. If you do, you will come up looking silly and embarrassed, with egg on you face.

Here is a partial list of some “square pegs” that would not fit into the round holes of these ritualists’ culture. Hezekiah prayed in bed, Elisha walked to and fro, Jesus stood, Daniel lay prostrate, David sat before the Lord; and never forget the One who prayed while nailed to a cross! From these, we find prayer is a heart attitude, not a physical position. God’s only requirement is that we bow the knees of our heart.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

*Habitual Prayer

The Bible does not say we should pray sometimes but, rather, at all times. It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. A mother can go about her daily chores and still be lifting her heart to God in prayer for her sick child.

Having a place and time to pray each day is a good habit, but when we leave our closets we are not to leave our prayer life there. David prayed three times a day, but that was not the only time he prayed. Read the Psalms and you’ll find he was a habitual pray-er.

The term “Breath a prayer,” has more Biblical truth connected to it than most of us realize. It is the very thing that sustains our Spiritual lives. Therefore we read in the scriptures that we are to be, “Instant in prayer”; “Always praying”; “Pray without ceasing”; Pray[ing] night and day”; “ Continuing instant in prayer”; “In everything by prayer.”
I like what my wife wrote recently in one of her articles, “My prayer life has evolved into more of an ongoing dialogue than a scheduled audience.”

Monday, January 7, 2008

*God's Bank Ain't Busted

“But my God shall supply all your need...” All of nature looks to God for their needs (Psalm104:27 see context). I seriously doubt that any of God’s animal of fowl creation get ulcers or have nervous breakdowns from worrying over whether or not they will be taken care of! Nor should we fret when our brook dries up. When there is no visible means of support, there is always the Invisible.

Our unseen Provider uses that which is seen to minister to us both temporally and spiritually. Paul told the poverty-stricken Philippians, “You met my need in one area; now God will supply all yours. You gave out of your deep poverty; God will give out of His abundant riches.” God’s treatment of them corresponded with their treatment of Paul.

“My ministry is supported by a rich Jew.”
(Pentecostal radio preacher)

God's Bank Ain't Busted Yet!

The bank had closed; my earthly store had vanished from my hand; I felt that there was not sadder one than I in all the land. My washerwoman, too, had lost her little mite with mine, And she was singing as she hung the clothes upon the line. "How can you be so gay? " I asked; "Your loss don't you regret?" "Yes, Ma'm, but what's the use to fret? God's bank ain't busted yet!"

I felt my burden lighter grow; her faith I seemed to share; In prayer I went to God's great throne and laid my troubles there. The sun burst from behind the clouds, in golden splendour set; I thanked God for her simple words: "God's bank ain't busted yet!"

And now I draw rich dividends, more than my hands can hold Of faith and love and hope and trust and peace of mind untold. I thank the Giver of it all, but still I can't forget My washerwoman's simple words: "God's bank ain't busted yet!"


Oh, weary ones upon life's road, when everything seems drear, And losses loom on every hand, and skies seem not to clear; Throw back your shoulder, lift your head, and cease to chafe and fret Your dividend will be declared:"God's bank ain't busted yet!"

Friday, January 4, 2008

Birds of a Feather

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.” It’s the wise person who chooses for his intimate friends, wise people. Character is molded either from the wicked or the wise. An individual shows his or her true colors by the crowd he or she runs with—“Birds of a feather,” you know. It says of the early believers that whenever they had a choice, “…they went to their own company.” Thus, we might say, they were known by the company they kept. And so are we.

If a man is to be good, he must, of necessity, spend time in the presence of good company. It rubs off. If you are habitually walking among flowers, you’ll pick up the scent. This is also true if one spends his time in a garbage dump! The people you are around can determine your soul’s spiritual richness, or they can play a great part in its poverty.

Therefore, don’t hang out with losers. They don’t expect to win anything in the game of life. They are failures and want all around them to be just like them. They believe it compliments their lifestyle.

If you want to gain new heights, run with mountain-climbers.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Responsible Recipients

“…there is none of you that is sorry for me…” It’s difficult to feel sorry for some people. Here we have such a person. Saul stood head and shoulders above his brethren. He was a giant of a man. He held the highest position, and, along with that, came all the power and possessions one could desire. He had a loving son in Jonathan and a loyal friend in David. And best of all, the Holy Spirit was upon him.

I say it is hard to feel sorry for the likes of Solomon, Absalom, and Samson, to name just a few; men who had so much going for them. Individuals who had it all handed to them on a silver platter, so to speak. But, along with their blessings came great responsibility. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” says our Lord.

Saul’s tribe, the Benjamites, were renowned for their precision in handling the sling “…every one could sling stones at a hair’s breadth, and not miss.” But if you don’t use your gift, you’ll lose it. It was David, not Saul, who brought down Goliath.

People who are blessed are not always blessings.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

*The Thing that Matters

Jesus told His followers to put God and His interests first, and He would throw in the goodies we all spend a lifetime seeking. God’s paradoxical way is to loose to get. He tells us if we attempt to go directly to the thing, bypassing Him, we’ll lose both.

C.S. Lewis had it right when he wrote, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

I have seen some professing Christians sidestep God and still get the “things" mentioned in our text; but invariably you’ll find they had to sell out to the devil to get them (Matt.4:9).

If one does not heed the Bible’s warning sign, and detours around God, then further down the road he or she will find disaster waiting. And if they continue on this wrong way, at some point it will no longer be possible to turn back. Remember, Esau got what he wanted but lost what he had.