Friday, February 29, 2008

The Shadow of the Cross

“[H]is cross…a shadow.” Paul tells us both in Colossians and the book of Hebrews that the Old Testament was filled with shadows of good things to come. You can be sure whenever you see a shadow that there is something of substance close by.

The cross of Christ is outlined throughout the old Cannon of Scripture. Jesus Himself confirmed this when He told the people of His day to, “Search the Scriptures…they...testify of me.” Remember, all they had at that time was the Old Testament.

Let us then seek to see some shadowy shapes of His Cross under the old Covenant. That is, some outlines of the real thing.

1. The Passover Lamb’s blood was put on the two side door posts and the lintel above. The Cross!

2. The Tabernacle furniture was placed so that it made the shape of cross. The Cross!

3. The heave offering was vertical, the wave offering horizontal. Bring them together and they become perpendicular. The Cross!

4. When Joseph’s two sons stood before Jacob, their grandfather, he crossed his arms so that he could bless the second born first. The Cross!

5. Ruth did not lie along side of Boaz, but cross-way at his feet. The Cross!

6. Peter refers to Christ’s cross as a, “Tree.” At the bitter waters of Marah, Moses cast a tree into them, and the waters became sweet. The Cross!


Glory, glory everlasting
Be to Him who bore the cross!
Who redeemed our souls, by tasting
Death, the death deserved by us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vain Knowledge

All knowledge is futile without the knowledge of God. Socrates said, “I know only one thing, that I know nothing.” I cannot vouch that this was said in sincerity or with a false show of humility. But after studying the Holy Scriptures for half a century, it is plain to me that every worldly wise philosopher’s knowledge is vain.

Few there are who understand that the real issue among Job’s so-called friends was which among them had the greater knowledge. Each desperately attempted to exalt himself at the other’s expense. To paraphrase Paul, “…they did not know as they ought to know.” God tells us in no uncertain terms at the end of Job that these know-it-alls knew nothing at all.

Peter exhorts Believers in his second epistle, “Add to your faith…knowledge.” He goes on to describe of what sort this knowledge consists, “But grow…in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Christian’s greatest desire should be to know Him more intimately. Not the Christ of the world, but the Christ of the Word.

Jesus said, “Search the scriptures…they…testify of me.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unbelieving Believers

The definition for the word “paradox,” in the American Heritage Dictionary is “a statement that appears to contradict itself, or be contrary to common sense, but that may be true.” The term “unbelieving believers” would fit under this heading. Contrary to reason, there are those among us believers, who manifest unbelief.

For example, Thomas was a believer in the Lord’s substitutionary death, but an unbeliever in the resurrection life. The father who brought his child to Jesus said, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” He believed God “was,” but not the “rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Israel had faith to cross the Red Sea, but not Jordan. Each of the above examples show unbelieving believers.

Doesn’t it seem strange; we have faith the Lord will save us, but we have difficulty trusting Him for victory in our daily lives. Moses tells God’s people in Deuteronomy, “He brought us out…that he might bring us in...” Exactly the same faith that brought them through the Red Sea could bring them over Jordan to the land of milk and honey. But, Hebrews tells us, "They could not enter in because of unbelief."

Israel didn’t wade through Jordan; they walked over by faith.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mr. In-Between

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” This is a difficult position to be in. It is doubly true when either choice will glorify God. To be in such a situation is to experience what the proverbial saying calls being “between a rock and a hard place.”

Not to choose one way or the other leaves things unresolved and us unstable. Therefore, it’s better to make a decision, even if it’s wrong. God can correct a wrong decision, but He can do nothing for no decision. It is said of Paul and his party, “…they assayed to…but the Spirit suffered them not.”

Do what you generally know the be right, and God will take care of the specifics.

Friday, February 22, 2008

No Absence of Opposites

“God…will with the temptation also make a way to escape…” Along with temptation, there is an escape hatch. There is no such thing as the absence of opposites in the Christian life. Assurance has its doubt; joy, sadness; peace, turmoil; contentment, unsettledness; and with all victory, there is, of necessity, a battle. If there were not the presence of the one, how would we know for sure that we possessed the other. There would be nothing to compare it to.

The wise man states, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other.” They say opposites attract. I don’t know about this. I do know, however, in the Scriptures, opposites are attached. They run parallel like a freeway and a service road. Paul’s paradoxes prove this to be so (2Cor.4:8-9; 6:8-10).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Christian's Great Confession

Reading the title of this article, I’m sure many Christian minds will go to Peter’s “Great Confession” in Mat.16:16. I am not speaking of his grand doctrinal statement, but rather a practical declaration each of us needs to make before the world, as well as our brethren. Those among us who hold positions of influence need especially to affirm this fact loud and clear.

And what is this major acknowledgement? It is simply the declaration that, “I CANNOT WALK ON WATER.” We need to affirm to all that we are not “Super Saints.” There is no giant “S” on the front of whatever attire we may be wearing. Neither do we possess a monogrammed cape enabling us to soar above the common man. We are men of like passions as they are, and we dare not ever forget it. For to do so means God will needs clip our artificial wings to bring us back down to earth.

Heavenly people are to be humble, not haughty!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bargaining Chips

If you know anything about the life of Jacob, you know he was a great one for bargaining with God. The only problem was, he (like we) usually came up short keeping his end of the bargain. The truth of the matter is, the sooner we realize that none of us have any bargaining chips with God, the happier and more content we will be.

I had the distinct privilege of spending a few years in N. Ireland. These dear people are known for their bartering ability. After some time of haggling, each barterer walks away feeling he or she got the better part of the deal.

The child of God who has learned not to try to barter with God will find he has gotten in on the best bargain of a lifetime.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grace at Hand

“The people...found grace in the wilderness” (Jer.31:2a) There is no place grace cannot and will not go. When wickedness is great in the earth, when corruption is all around us, when violence fills our land, grace can still be found. Ask Noah!

We are strangers in a strange land, but we’re never strangers to grace. It follows us wherever we go and wherever we are. It is always nearby. We are never so lost or forgotten that grace cannot find us. When Elijah was discouraged and so depressed he wanted to die, He, Who is full of grace, showed up in the wilderness of his experience to sustain him by providing “a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head” as he slept.

And what was God’s purpose in His people finding grace in the wilderness? “I went to cause him to rest” (v.2b). And so it still is; we also can find grace in a weary land.

Grace is always at hand; just reach out and take what you need!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Enough is Enough

We are told in the Book of God that Satan accuses God’s people day and night. He is relentless, there is no let up, until we say, “Enough is enough.” That is, we put our foot down and tell the indicter he has gone far enough, and that we’ll allow him to go no further. The best illustration of Satan being silenced in condemning the saint, I think, is found in Max Lucado’s book, “In the Grip of Grace.”

Sometime ago I read a story of a youngster who was shooting rocks with a slingshot. He could never hit his target. As he returned to Grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. On impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck was dead. The boy panicked and hid the bird in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching.

After lunch that day, Grandma told Sally to help with the dishes. Salle responded, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So, Johnny did the dishes.

What choice did he have? For the next weeks he was at the sink often. Sometimes for his duty, sometimes for his sin. “Remember the duck,” Sally’d whisper when he objected.

So weary of the chore, he decided that any punishment would be better than washing more dishes, so he confessed to killing the duck. “I know, Johnny,” his grandma said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Outdated?

C.S. Lewis wrote: “It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been “had for a sucker” by any number of imposters; but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need.”

We who have been burnt a few times in life by those we have helped, need not let one bad apple spoil the bunch. We ought not major on the nine who did not return to give thanks but the one who did. That one was worth all the rest.

Both laymen and leader are susceptible to this plague of the heart. Memory loss is no excuse for forgetting how much others did for us when there was no one else to reach out a helping hand.

One does not have to agree with or adopt the lifestyle of a drunkard, but certainly there should be some show of appreciation when such a person runs into a burning house and saves their only child. Gratitude is never out of date.

A brief note of thanks says more than a whole book.

*Something You Can Hang Your Hat On

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” His methods may change, but never the Man. His sterling character is changeless. Paul was telling these primitive believers that the God of the Old Testament saints was the same in their times. And added that He will remain such even unto our day. Therefore we can repeat this precious promise to our generation. He is the same in the 21st century as He was in the 1st. And He will continue to be such forever. That’s something you can depend on.

If at one time he loved you, He loves you still; if at one time He was with you, He is with you still; if at one time He owned you as His own, then He owns you still. We do not have a fickle Savior, but a faithful one. Ours is not a vacillating God; He is covenant-keeping one. Christ is changeless in a changeable world. Or as the hymn writer wrote: “Change and decay in all around I see: O Thou Who changes not, abide with me.”

Christ is the Rock that keeps the rock of Gibraltar steady.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Brain-dead Believers

“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” Many ministries today have degenerated into Nicolaitism. That is, the clergy over the laity. Our modern equivalent of this word would be totalitarianism, which Webster defines as meaning: 1) does not tolerate parties of different opinions; 2) dictates over various aspects of life; 3) has authoritative control over freedom, will, or thought.

How do such ministries come to fruition, and even flourish? Invariably, it is when God’s people stop thinking for themselves, and let others do it for them. If you can get a man to think like you, you have captured him. Ideals are the most powerful weapons in the world. All dictators and conquerors realize this. This is why thinkers are threats to tyrants.

The two-fold danger we face is either having a closed mind that is open to nothing; or an open one that takes in everything. What is needed is a spiritually discerning mind in all things.

If you think outside the box, it will lead you inside the veil.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bondage

The religious professors of Jesus day fancifully imagined themselves to have never been in bondage, and were quick to tell Him so. But sheep can’t pull the wool over the Shepherd’s eyes. He was more than familiar with their history (as He is ours). They had been in bondage in Egypt for some four hundred years, in Babylonian bondage seventy years, and at the time of their fabricated statement, were in bondage to Rome.

Why is it we are so slow to admit we are in bondage to something or someone? Is it not because we desperately want to believe we are in control? The truth is we are all in bondage, one way or the other. If one is not a bond-slave to Jesus Christ, then he or she is to the world, the flesh, or the devil. There are varieties of ways in which one can be in bondage to either things or people. For example, we can be in bondage to our appetites, thoughts, enjoyments, and emotions, as well as to family, friends, and religious leaders; to name just a few.

Peter tells us in his second epistle, “…for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” The quickest way to break anything that enslaves you is to make yourself a bond-servant to Jesus Christ. You are free when you’re bound to Christ. When we can say from our hearts, “I will not let thee go,” it is then the hold other things have on us, strangely lets go.

It’s well to remember, we are in bondage to whatever we cannot part with.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

*Settled as Cement

“Settle it therefore in your hearts...” If you’re ever going to transact business with God, it must be done from the conference room of your heart. All the issues of life come from this little room. Once things are settled there, you can go forward without fear. Very few things, if any, can stop you once things are settled in this sacred room. Divine determination will characterize your life.

It is within the confines of the four walls of the heart that purposes are fixed. They are settled like cement. This is what carried young Daniel through life. Once he had “purposed in his heart...” it took him through the rest of his life till old age. Every unsettled thing in our lives, the devil will challenge us on.

We are always committed to the things we love. What are you committed to?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Friendship's Necessity

There are several things that go into a lasting friendship, such as mutual loyalty, the ability to keep a confidence, as well as being comfortable in intimate conversation. But first and foremost, above all, true friendship is willing to accept the other, just as he or she is…warts and all. The famine of true friendship today can be traced to the fact that one or both party’s fears rejection. As someone has said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still likes you.”

We should constantly keep our friendships in repair. The wise man said, “…when thou art come into…thy friend…humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.” David and Jonathan are good examples of this. Their relationship epitomized what Aristotle said: “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Again, it has been said, “No man is the whole of himself; his friends are the rest of him.”

Many of us, because of death or the fact of geography, long for the camaraderie we once enjoyed with friends. But to all you lonely, seemingly friendless souls, I remind you “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” And remember, too, it is He that said to His followers, “Ye are my friends.” The songwriters had it right when they penned, “There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus,” and “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

Thank God, He’s my Friend. He accepts me the way I am. And I have no fear of ever being rejected by Him.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

*When Everything Is Falling Apart

“And Moses cried unto the Lord saying, What shall I do…And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on…” If you’ll read the background of Exodus 17, you will find that Moses, as my granny would say, “was in a fine pickle of a mess.” Everything seemed to be falling apart. What advice does God give to His children when all is crumbling around them?

Well, I’m afraid our God would not qualify as a good councilor by today’s standards. Rather than a long drawn out, wordy session, He answers this bewildered saint with just two little words, “Go on.” In other words, do what comes next; keep on keeping on. If you’ll do this you will always stay far enough ahead of the things that are collapsing that they will not fall on you. That is, you’ll not be crushed under the load.

The old, black philosopher, Satch Paige, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians, used to say, “Don’t look back, they might be gainin’ on ya!”

Friday, February 1, 2008

He Stole My Heart

I feel like Samuel Rutherford when he said, “Since He looked upon me my heart is not my own, He hath run away to heaven with it.” Jesus Christ is my life; I’d like to believe He has all the love and loyalty this frail vessel is capable of giving.

But I blush to admit, because of this feeble flesh, I am not always what I ought and want to be to Him. But, blessed be His name, He has always been to me everything He promised to be. For half a century now He has been my Saviour, God, friend, lover, protector, provider, councilor, physician, and defender. I could go on and on, but as John the Beloved said, “…the world itself could not contain the books that should be written,” if I were to tell all He is and means to me.

I am grieved by professing Christians today who make much of God and little of His Son. A Christian can no more get to God by-passing Jesus than a sinner can. You cannot ignore God’s Beloved Son and honour God. “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father.”

The test for every false religion is, “What think ye of Christ?” Not, “Do you believe in God?” James writes, “Thou believest that there is one God…the devils also believe, and tremble.”

Contrary to the religious peddlers of our day, God’s emphasis is not on the family, politics, church, and pet doctrines, but on His Darling Son! Please listen to this old disciple, if you want God’s blessings upon your life and ministry in a very special way; then make much of His Son. Like any father, God loves it when His Son is bragged about!