Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who's That Knocking at the Door?

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Notice Jesus did not say, “I want you to come out to me,” but rather, “I want to come in to you.” This church was in a sad, deplorable condition. The members were lifeless and filled with blind pride. What made things worse, they were both unconscious as well as unconcerned about the matter.

Out of our Lord’s letters to the seven churches, our text to the Laodiceans is the tenderest. Yet they were the least deserving. We learn from this Scripture that no matter what the state of other Christians may be in our assembly, one soul with a hunger for God may have intimate Divine fellowship in the midst of deadness.

Jesus told His disciples, “I have meat to eat, that ye know not of.” So does the “any man” of the Laodicean church.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Healing the Hidden Hurts

I believe in Scriptural, physical healing, but, at best, it is only a temporary patch on the outward man that’s perishing. Our greatest need is for an inward, permanent healing of the soul. David prayed in Psalms, “Heal my soul.” We are all prone to glory in appearances, but it is in the secret places of the heart that our Lord does His most lasting work.

If we could pull back the veil of the flesh and see the inward lives of each other, how we would pity one another. Our spirits would be bound to our brethren of like passions. We would see hopes that are crushed, strengths that have been drained, faith like the broken wing of a bird that can no longer fly heavenward, and hearts that are shattered. When will we ever learn, the world can fix about anything, but a broken heart.

It says of our Lord, He came “to heal the broken in heart.” Though we are poor replicas of the Great Physician, we are still to emulate His ministry. As miniature physicians, we can bind up the wounds and pour in the oil to those hurting in the hidden places of their lives.

We have a plaque on our wall that belonged to my blessed mother; it reads....

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Painting a Floor.

In Hosea, God’s people are prospering outwardly, but decaying inwardly. This is always the result when we think we can live our lives independent of Him, when His instructions are not heeded. Hosea is a master of imagery. He paints pictures with words. Two of his favorite words are “as” and “like.” For example, “Ephraim’s as a moth,” or “They are like a deceitful bow.”

In chapter seven and verse two he tells us “Now their own doings have beset them about.” That is, they got themselves in a mess they couldn’t get out of. They wanted to do their own thing, and it has now encompassed them so that they cannot escape. Or in other words, “They painted themselves into a corner.” And whenever this happens, all you can do is wait till the paint dries! If you don’t, you’ll make a mess of everything. At such times when we are encircled with such difficulties, it is wise, like the children of Israel at the Red Sea, to “Stand still,” until He commands, “God forward.”

We can do it our way; but, in the end, we’ll have to come back to the “Instruction Manual.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Best is Yet to Come

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Paul is contrasting our present state with our future glory. And there is no worthy comparison. This spiritual mathematician knew his arithmetic. After balancing out the two columns (today's suffering and tomorrow's glory), the eternal far outweighed the temporal (2 Cor.4:17). Our pain only lasts as long as time, and, for we who are Heaven-bound, there is a time when time shall be no more. When our human clock stops, so does the pain. Then, only endless glory.

Dear saint, if we are following the steps of the Man of Sorrows, then we will experience the same as we trod His path. The order is: first the cross then the crown. He left us an example to follow, and the way we get from one to the other is the way He did. "For the joy that was set before him endured the cross."

When speaking of the saints' future state, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

*Rightness

It is never too late to make things right…to do right…to be right. Never look at your clock and imagine it’s too late for you. Look at God’s timepiece. It has no hands on it.

Nothing can keep a person from righting things, if they have a mind to. The only thing that can prevent them is themselves. Advanced years cannot stop one; look at the old patriarch, Abraham. Depraved sins committed can’t keep you back; read the story of the wickedest man in the Bible, Manasseh. Broken, ruined relationships can be restored; remember Jacob and Esau. And even at the brink of eternity, things can be turned around; don’t forget the thief on the cross.

If you want to make things right…do right…and be right. Be assured God will do right toward you, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” It’s never later than you think when it has to do with rightness in your life.

As a young preacher I remember sitting under the ministry of the old Methodist Evangelist, Dr. Bob Jones Sr. I can still see him cup his hand around his mouth and shout, "DO RIGHT IF THE STARS FALL."

Monday, May 19, 2008

*Skimpy Shelters

“Be it far from thee...this shall not be unto thee.” I have the same problem as Peter. I’m like an old mother hen. I like to overly protect those dear to me. I don’t want them to suffer any hardship or hurts, not realizing these things often are a part of God’s will for their lives. To such carnal reasoning our Lord says, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God.”

Attempting to shield our loved ones from God’s dealings with them, we become amateur providences and skimpy shelters. Trying to prevent the Lord’s workings in the lives of others, we do not realize it brings an obstruction between us and our God. Satan provokes us and then delights when we play God in the lives of other people. It is better to stay out of the Lord’s dealings with those close to us. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” says the Lord.

Too many of us are like Job’s wife; we want to spare our loved ones any suffering. But we need to wait and see “the end of the Lord.”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

*To Appropriate is Appropriate

Two of Webster’s definitions for the word “appropriate” are 1) proper; 2) to take for oneself; so it is appropriate... to appropriate. When it comes to spiritual blessings, it is proper to take them for one’s own self. How I thank God for bringing this great truth into my Christian life while I was still an infant in Christ.

I have noticed many sincere and godly saints who spend a lifetime praying for certain things without ever receiving them. Why is this? Because God does not give us what we already have. In cases of spiritual blessings, I need to appropriate them, not pray for them. I may need to pray for a car or finances—anything I need and do not already have—but not for something I already possess.

For example, He has already given me His peace; for me to pray for it would be futile. I need to appropriate the peace I already have. I’m reminded of how God had already given Israel the land, but told Joshua they must go in and appropriate it by faith (Josh. 1:3). Interestingly enough, Paul tells New Testament believers in Ephesians 1:3 that God “...hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places…”

It’s a “done deal.” All I have to do is take them for my own. “According to your faith be it unto you,” says the Lord Jesus.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

*Elastic Saints

“She hath done what she could.” When you have done all you can do, then you have done all you should do. After all, as simple as it may sound, all you can do is what you can do. You cannot do more than you can do. We all have our limitations. We can go so far and no further. But within the confines of what we can do, we can give our best. It is this that Christ commends.

Do what you can do—not less or more. If the devil cannot get us to come short, he will drive us past, the will of God. For those who mean business with God, he uses the latter method to tax their endurance.

In many instances, an overachieving spirit comes from comparing ourselves among ourselves. That is, trying to stay up with the Jones’ (or bettering them). Paul did not fall into this trap. His testimony was, “…we stretched not ourselves beyond measure.” The apostle did not want to lose his elasticity and become a sagging saint.

*Morbid Anticipation

“…be strong, and be of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.” David adopts Moses’ words to Israel to exhort his son. Solomon had a vast undertaking lying before him in the future. And so this experienced, wise father admonishes him to “…dread not.” My own definition of this word would be “a morbid anticipation.”

How can we dread an unknown future, if we truly believe all things are working for our good? As one old-time missionary said, “My future is as bright as the promises of God.” Certainly, this agrees with the wise little saying, “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.”

This is why Jesus instructs us, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow.” To do so paralyzes a person in the present. Take my word for it, I ashamedly confess I know from experience. When we are controlled by dread, we cease to be controlled by Deity. We need not dread. God knows all about our tomorrows, and He has planned for each of them.

C.S. Lewis writes, “Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

*The Supernatural

“[T]he water was made wine...this beginning of miracles did Jesus...” There is a term used among Bible students known as “the law of first mention.” That is, the way anything is used originally, it almost always remains that way thereafter. We find this truth in Jesus’ first miracle.

In our Lord’s “beginning of miracles,” He uses all natural means to perform the supernatural. I have not looked up the dictionary meaning of the word “supernatural.” But it seems to me, generally speaking, that the Bible’s definition would be, “The supernatural is the natural with God in it.”

Therefore, it behooves each of us not to be too quick in ignoring and passing up the scrub bushes in your lives. God may be in one of them. Moses found this to be true.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

*Aspiration / Inspiration

From the story of the Pharisee and the Publican we find that spiritual progress is not in moral attainments, but in having a sense of need. The Laodicean Christian has need of nothing. What can God give the man who has everything? The Pharisee was self-satisfied, the Publican, dissatisfied.

God is looking for hungry hearts to fill. He bypasses bloated, boastful egos. An inward, overwhelming sense of need beats an outward, superficial decor every time. The Pharisee had gained an inch before men, but the Publican had passed him by a mile in God’s sight.

The Christian life is not validated by possessing, but by a sense of want. The measure of our want determines our poverty or communion with our Lord. The self-satisfied have no cravings, but God promises to fill the hungry soul. When aspiration dies, inspiration ceases.

A crock pot with a treasure within is better than an ornamented vase that is empty.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Christians in the Cluches of Cults

In a ministry that spans some fifty years I have never preached on individual cults. I am not opposed to others doing it; it just seemed to me like bobbing for apples. You know, there is always another one popping up. Therefore, like the Treasury Department teaches its agents, I’ve taught people to know and be familiar with the real thing. As a result it is not difficult to spot a counterfeit.

False religions feed upon shallow saints who do not have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. These professing Christians, as my Granny used to say, jumped “from the frying pan into the fire.” That is, most, if not all, came from cultic type, man-centered Evangelical or Fundamental churches. They simply exchanged one cult leader for another. And believe me; the latter is more dangerous and deadly.

It’s one thing to be in a church with cultic characteristics, but it is quite another to be in a real cult. The acid test between the look-alike and the genuine cult is to simply ask the question, “What think ye of Christ?” If the answer is not, “He is God,” then you are in a full-fledged cult. Read 11Peter 2:17-22 for a description of these devils. Notice in Jude 12, their gatherings are called Love Feasts.

Intellectual fads invariably lead to false fables.

*The Faith Life

“…the life which I now live…I live by…faith.” Paul lived his Christian life in the present. He was not a “use-to-be-er” or an “I’m-gonna.” This realist did not live in a fantasy world. He was always present. And this life he lived was lived by faith. It was the “now faith…” that the writer of Hebrews spoke of. Past faith is ineffective; future faith is untried; present faith is all that really works.

If we are justified in Christ, then this life of faith the Apostle lived is to be emulated by us. For we are told, “The just shall live by faith.” Our lives are to be lived in a conscious (or unconscious) moment by moment trust in God. Without such a faith, it is impossible to please Him.

Faith only grows by using it!

Friday, May 9, 2008

*The Carpenter

“Is not this the carpenter..?” The people of Jesus’ day associated Him with the general work force. Our Lord wore work clothes for some thirty years.

The first men Jesus called were not from the universities, but summoned while laboring on the job. Many times scholars are hostile to simplicity. Stained glass is beautiful, but it doesn’t let the light in like plain glass does. Our Lord likes transparency, not obscurity.

By selecting laboring men, Jesus forever put His approval on the working man. When a king wears workmen’s attire, it becomes royal apparel. If only everyday Christian workmen would realize they are wearing the regal garments of our Lord.

In a day when the clergy and “full-time” Christian workers are exalted above the laity, it is important for the working man to realize he is not a second-class Christian.

“Every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

*Out of Options?

“…all hope…was then taken away.” “…hope thou in God.” Sometimes we hear it said that there are no more options. But that is not so if you’re a child of God. All options are not gone if you have God. It can never be said of a Christian, in any circumstance, that they are out of options.

The world thought Israel at the Red Sea, Joseph in the pit, Daniel in the lion’s den, the Jews in captivity, and our Lord on the Cross, had no options. But they, as always, were sorely wrong. Truly, it could be said of these and others like them, “It ain’t over till it’s over!” When the devil whispers, “There is no way out,” the believer can shout, "There is a God in heaven.”
And this Great God of ours promises through His Prophet Isaiah, “I…will make a way…”

“No option” is the world’s opinion…not God’s.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Clothe Him with the Best Robe

I stand in awe at how God can undo our mistakes and correct our shortcomings. He keeps His children from embarrassing situations whenever possible. He goes to great lengths to make us look good before others. Simon Peter’s life bears this out.

With well intentions, he steps out for God, but immediately Peter begins to shamefully sink. But Jesus instantly lifts him up and with him, walks back to the boat, where the others sit and gaze in amazement. God will never let anyone sink whose motive is, “...bid me come unto thee…”

How often we, like Peter, have caused unnecessary hurt to others, while trying to defend the Person of our Lord. We, also, must be careful how we use the “sharp two-edged sword,” lest it be used in an inappropriate and unscriptural way. But, thanks be unto God, when we do fail, our Lord is still able to touch and heal Malchus’ ear!

And what are we to do with those human limitations of ours? Put them in the hands of a limitless God! You’d never know the unlearned and ignorant fisherman preached those grammatically flawless sermons in the book of Acts. Or that he could write two letters in which the finest English teacher would find no place for corrections, but would instead leave an “A+” on his work.

He not only clothes ours sins, but our flaws, too.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

*From Captivity to Freedom

When Christ sets captives free, it does not always mean from their afflictions, but rather, in them. On many occasions, God allows His people to be taken captive for their own good. He says through the prophet Jeremiah concerning Judah’s Babylonian captivity, “I have sent [you] out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for [your] good.” One of the many profitable results of this captivity is that Israel never again worshipped idols, even to this day.

David said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Joseph could echo an “Amen” to this. His abasement was his advancement. Jacob was willing to have a bone out of joint, and limp all his life, that he might walk with God. Manasseh traded his proud, golden crown, for iron chains. The result of this captivity was that “when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord, and humbled himself greatly, and the Lord was entreated of him.” The three Hebrew children could praise God for the fire. It was the flames of adversity that burned off the things that bound them. They were free in the fire. All the above providential afflictions seemed to be prejudicial, but, in reality they were beneficial.

Our “prison” ultimately becomes our palace

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Praise is the Addemdum

There are many who stand before God and cry, “God be merciful,” who will never stand in the presence of men and cry, “God be praised.” A plea for deliverance should be followed with a psalm of praise. You can either be with the nine who never returned to give thanks or a companion of the one who did. “Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness.”

Many blessings become stale because they are not followed by telling them to others. It’s like the Dead Sea with no outlet. Un-told blessings lose their freshness. It would be wise for us to follow the four lepers’ advice, “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.”

We are to tell the story of our deliverance to the enslaved that they too, like Peter, may find the “iron gate” swing open, and so find freedom.

Don’t be ungrateful for His many graces.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

*The Mole and the Mountain

"The mountains…and the little hills." These two have their place, but only the one in problematic situations. At such times, you want to minimize, not maximize. The reason most of our problems are so gigantic is that we are the creators of them. It seems we are always sitting behind the wheel of our bulldozers, piling up more debris, to make a mountain out of what began with a little hill.

We are experts at manufacturing mountains. We make mountains out of our molehills; but He can make molehills out of our mountains, though He only accomplishes this when He hears us first say, in faith, to the mountain, "Be thou removed…"
A big problem or a big God…which?