Thursday, October 30, 2008

Popular Opinion

“I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Paul was not one of those Christians who put his ear to the ground to find out what others would think or say about him before he acted on what God had personally shown him.

I have a little saying I have tried to live by through the years: When you know what God wants you to do, do it immediately. If you wait, you’ll be talked out of it by yourself, others, or the devil.

Men and women who are obsessed with obeying God at all costs march to a different drum beat than that of their brethren. As Emerson wrote, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

When there is conformity to others, the price will be to live with their deformity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Old Mans Testimony

In his latter years David gave this witness, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” I doubt seriously if any reading this article will go to Heaven prematurely because they starved to death. Although they may get there early because they worried themselves to death.

When Paul spoke of some personal things in his life he said, “I speak as a fool speaks.” Lest any misinterpret what I say, let me assure you this is for the purpose of illustration, not solicitation, (“God knoweth”). Between the two of us, my wife and I receive a little over a thousand a month in Social Security. My older son pays the lot rent on our mobile home. Other than this income, we have less than a dozen people who send us different sized offerings on a regular monthly basis.

Recently, because of the economy, we have lost three hundred a month in regular support. And one dear brother, who helps us when the big bills come due (insurance, car repairs, etc.) had his salary cut in half. The others have either been laid off, or cannot find work. I cannot tell you the e-mails we have gotten from anxious souls desiring council during these trying times.

The first thing I advise is to magnify the Lord, not the problem. The second is to pray for wisdom, and search the scriptures. Then I suggest you use your “sanctified noodle”; that’s why God gave you a brain. I then would lighten the ship and keep only the necessary things life requires. And above all, I would be thankful for His Grace and Goodness! This is what Salle and I try to do at such times. It works for us; who knows, it may work for you.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

GOD’S BANK AIN’T BUSTED YET!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feeding the Feeder

As a new-born babe in Christ, I remember listening to The Old-Fashioned Revival Hour and Radio Bible Class every Sunday morning before church. On the weekdays, it was Back to the Bible. How I was fed through their ministries. Much of my spiritual growth as a Christian I attribute directly to these marvelous ministries.

Though I believe, generally speaking, one should tithe through their local assembly (if they are being fed and nourished from the Word of God), I also preached and practiced the truth that your offerings could prayerfully be given to a ministry, or ministries, that have been a blessing to you.

I am so thankful, as I look back over the years, that I supported some of these ministries on a regular basis. I knew what they did for me, and I dearly wanted them to do the same for others.

How I appreciate now that little handful of faithful friends who financially help us each month. A seasoned preacher told me when I first started out, “You feed God’s people and they’ll feed you.” I call it, “feeding the feeder. I praise God for my “feeders!”

“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (1 Cor. 9:11)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Ecclesiastes Experience

“I hated life...for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Admit it or not, all of us, at one time or the other, have an Ecclesiastes experience. Like Solomon of old, we look through these natural eyes placed in our bodies of clay, and try to understand everything that happens under the sun. When we yield to this temptation, we are dismayed to find that, ultimately, all ends in disappointment. It is only when we look above the sun with our spiritual eyes and behold its Maker that we receive encouragement for our life on earth (2Cor.4:18).

It is then that we realize all the confusing contrasts of life are working together for our good. Both the dark and bright colors are necessary for God to paint His perfect picture. For with the final stroke of His brush, we will see, “He hath made everything beautiful in his time.”
To refuse to accept this will only lead to anxiety and frustration. Both riches and poverty, health and sickness, strength and weakness, joy and sorrow are in the mix of life, and will come out a surprisingly delicious treat in the end.

Sweet and sour are the flavors that make up life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Transition

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” It is not my intention to debate whether this is grape juice or fermented wine. Actually, I lean towards the latter. What I do want to discuss is the transition in Paul’s ministry. I fully realize some have gone to the extreme, leaving us with only his last Epistles for our doctrine and conduct. But, on the other hand, not to recognize any change at all, one ends up with a shipwrecked faith. Because they do not see a reproduction of sign gifts as found in Acts, they become disillusioned.

Paul did not use his apostolic powers to heal his young protégé, nor did he tell him to pray and claim healing. No, he simply encouraged him to use the means God put at his disposal to remedy the problem.

Like Naaman of old, some of us like for God to do something supernatural and spectacular on our behalf rather than using the natural means He has provided. The former makes one look spiritual in the eyes of the brethren; the latter simply makes us come across as just another member of the human race.

Jesus’ humanity is a precious thing. Make sure you don’t lose yours while trying to be spiritual.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Parental Grief

And Esau…took to wife Judith…the Hittite…and Bashemath…the Hittite: Which was a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” Isaac had peace round about with his neighbors, but unrest within the home from one of his children. His worldly son Esau had gone against God’s command and his parent’s wishes in marrying these heathen women. By doing so he intimates that he neither desired God’s blessing, nor dreaded His curse. And what’s more, he cared little or nothing for the grief it caused his mother and father. It is clear he had a festering hurt that left him spiteful.

Grown children need to realize that not all the instruction given to children in Proverbs is to adolescents; much is to grown adult children. And I find it is the latter of the two that brings the most heartache to tender and good parents. I am not speaking of minor preferences, but bed rock moral principles. Certainly they can and ought to be individualist as to the first, but never independent of the second.

Where do you find in the Bible any grown child that went against the God honoring principles they were brought up with, prosper? No adult, Christian son or daughter, who purposely causes their godly parents continual grief, need ever expect God’s full blessings upon his or her life. Ask Esau if you don’t believe me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dug In

“Ye have compassed this mountain long enough.” Or, as they say in our modern culture, “It’s time to move on.” How easy it is to rest on past accomplishments or to settle in where there have been set backs. I like some of the terms of the younger generation today. One that especially impresses me, though it may sound harsh and unsympathetic is “Get over it!” In other words, we need to get on with our lives.

Whether it is victory or defeat; you cannot dwell around that mount indefinitely. Constantly rehashing and telling of past achievements to others becomes boring. And to remember and relive your past failures can be discouraging. I’ve noticed those who re-live their past fiascos like to blame others for their messes; but those living in the present like to find solutions to theirs.

Paul tells us the way to forget those things which are behind is to forge ahead. The writer of Hebrews puts it, “Let us go on...” That is, go on from where you’re at. Or as the old military term to resting soldiers goes, “Move out!”

Compassing the same mountain is like “ring-around-the-rosy”; you never get any place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inside Issues

In the future, from time to time, I will be writing about what I believe to be some serious problems within the Body of Christ (Inside Issues). Mind you, this is only one man’s humble opinion. It comes from an old disciple’s observance of an institution he has dearly loved and been an intricate part of for more than half a century. I’m speaking of The Church of Jesus Christ.

Today I’d like to discuss the Christian and politics. I want to cover this controversial subject a little differently from that which is generally presented. One’s involvement in the political process, I believe, is up to an individual’s conscience before God. My position is that of the little proverbial saying, “Some can, others can’t.” And as far as which of the two is better, I think we could apply Paul’s words to each side, “…neither…are we the better; neither …are we the worse.”

My concern is not with a believer’s involvement in governmental affairs, but their entanglement. Paul warns us, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.” It seems to me when preachers and churches intertwined with the world, they lost the power of God. When your brand of Christianity is accepted and applauded by this world, you have the wrong sort. Jesus said the world hated Him, and it will hate us. We need to be more concerned with God’s acceptance than the world’s corrupt system.

God said He would have spared Sodom had Lot been a Spiritual influence rather than getting tangled up in their political affairs (Gen.19:9). As D.L. Moody said, “It’s alright for the ship to be in the water, but it sinks when the water gets in the ship.” Separation is not isolation, but insulation without contamination. Even a casual reading of the book of Acts would settle many doubts as to a Christian and politics.

You’ll never straighten out this world with crooked Christians.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hound Dogs and Jesus

The old Methodist Evangelist, Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “If a hound dog comes to town and barks for Jesus, I’m not going to try to stop him.” This pretty much goes along with what Jesus told His disciples. You may recall, in the Gospels, there was one casting out devils in Jesus' name; and John told Jesus “…we forbad him, because he followeth not us.” To which our Lord replied, “Forbid him not…” He did not say, join him, promote him, or bring him into our camp; He simply told them to leave him alone. Let him bark for Jesus!

Paul had this philosophy also. He told the Philippian Christians that although some who preached Christ were not even sincere in doing so, he still rejoiced over the fact that Christ was preached. The first thing a young aspiring actor learns is to keep his or her name before the public. They’re told, “It doesn’t matter what they say about you, just make sure they spell you name correctly.” In case someone is reading this who does not know how to spell it, it’s spelled JESUS!

I just celebrated my 75th birthday this past week, and have been in the Gospel ministry over 50 years. In this time I have learned to choose my battles. Some things are not important enough to fight for; a bull dog can whip a skunk, but it’s not worth the fight. My fight is with any and all within the religious community who deny Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and scoff at the fact that He is the only way of salvation. Such important truths as these are worth dying for. I have drawn my sword against all Apostates, Cults, and New Agers. No matter what the cost is to me personally! (2 Tim4:7)

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Caught in the Middle

The story is told of a young man during the Civil War who wanted to play it safe, so he put on Yankee pants and a Rebel coat. But, to his dismay, he was shot at by both sides. And so, without compromise, I hope to appease both sides of a warring issue, but feel I’m in a no-win position. I speak of the Atonement. Was it universal or particular; was it for all or only the elect?

As much as one side “wrestles the scriptures,” it still comes out, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” If you change “the whole world” to mean something else; then you must do it later on in John’s first Epistle when he writes, “The whole world lieth in wickedness.” On the other side of the coin, to deny God has an elect people, you must take a penknife, as Jehudi of old, and cut out great portions of scripture.

And so, is it universal or limited? His atonement is sufficient for all, but only efficient to those who believe. We are to, “…do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Watch these two words in italics as they’re used elsewhere. “[He] is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”

To me, this is the only way you can make a legitimate offer of the gospel to the whole world. For those who believe in a “Limited Atonement” limit God’s love for the world. But, on the other hand, those who detest “Election,” as the old preacher said, “That’s why God didn’t elect you; He knew you wouldn’t like it.”

Well that’s it, and I can already sense some taking aim.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good Without God

“But of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” Not only was this divine duet to be ignorant of evil, but also of good. They knew God, who only is good; they needed not to know “good” apart from Him. Knowing good, without God, is humanism. Knowing God is Heavenly, and that is as good as good gets!

To constantly preach (especially to youth) on extracting external evils, thinking this will produce good in their lives, is futile. Our blessed Lord left us the example to follow. It says of Him, “God anointed Jesus...with the Holy Ghost...who went about doing good.” Jesus’ external good was the result of the internal, eternal God within.

Good is never pleasant, to God’s eyes, if it is done independently of Him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Unbearable Yoke

"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” Had it been some of today’s churches writing to these early Gentile believers, it would have cost a pretty penny for the postage to send such a large document. The list of rules and regulations would have taken up at least a hundred pages. And the addendum would have read, “More to follow!”

These primitive saints were simply told to abstain from: 1) pollutions of idols; 2) fornication; and 3) things strangled and blood. Notice, these three things covered their spiritual, moral, and physical lives. And this brief trio of rules is referred to as “…necessary things.” The authors of this little list had come out of a strong legalistic background, and were conscious that a long list of man-made laws would result in a great burden to these believers under Grace. And so Peter says, “Now therefore why…put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

I think the apostle, James’ exhortation to the Jerusalem church would be wise for us to follow today: “Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not those which…are turned to God.”

Never put more on a person than they’re able to bear. (Joe Henry Hankins)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Divine Invitation

If I understand it right, no one can approach a king on his throne except by the king’s personal approval. Esther realized this when she told Mordecai, “...whoever...shall come unto the king...who is not called...[shall be] put...to death.” That is, she adds, “...except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre.” She went on to say, “...I have not been called to come unto the king these thirty days.”

How I thank God that I can approach my King anytime, day or night—not with fear and trembling, but with full assurance in my heart. I am told I can enter boldly on the basis of the blood of His Son. Jesus is God’s “sceptre of righteousness” which God has reached out to me. Because of this, we have a Divine invitation to approach His throne. “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy (for past failures), and find grace to help (for the present) in time of need.” Yes, there are warnings in the Book of Hebrews, but, overall, it is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, books in the Bible on assurance and comfort for the believer.

Years ago, a man in England named Dr. Barnardo, took in little waifs from the streets of London. He clothed, fed, and gave them a home. One little fellow entered his office on a certain night, requesting help. The doctor asked who had recommended him. The reply from the little urchin was, “I thought these tattered clothes would be recommendation enough.”

Oh, how I thank God I can come to His throne today, knowing my tattered, soiled rags of failures and shortcomings will be recommendation enough for help in my time of need!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cherish Your Choices

“…choose you this day…” Christianity begins with a choice and continues on that way. The Christian life is basically made up of daily choices. At the dawn of each new day, we must choose whether we will search the Scriptures, pray, take up our cross, exhort one another, renew the inner man, die to self, offer up a sacrifice, etc.

It is important to realize, we are what we choose. You can tell a lot about a person by their choices. Many complain about where they are in life at this particular time, but it may be well to remember, we are what and where we are because of choices we made in days gone by. This is why it is so crucial to make the right daily choices. The choice of one day can determine all our future days.

Today’s choices can decide tomorrow’s outcome.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Watch Those Birds

“And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” More times than not, there is a Divine delay between our preparing and God’s performing. During these intense intervals, many distractions can arise. It is important during these trying times that we do our part, while waiting for God to do His. We need to keep a watchful eye upon our spiritual sacrifices.

My dear, old granny used to say, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from roosting in your hair!” Every thought that wings its way into our minds which says God will not perform what He promised, needs to be violently driven away. Be patient; be watchful, dear child of God, and remember that Abraham was “…fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” And He did! And He still does.

Beyond Discription

Powerless, lifeless, emptiness—do you feel any of these adjectives portrays your church, family, or ministry? And even worse, are they descriptive of your personal life? If so, I know one thing for sure, the thrill of the spiritual is gone out of your life. What I mean by this is that you have lost the excitement of the eternal. And if this be the case, there really are no meaningful words in any dictionary to describe your wretched condition. As the little saying goes, “It’s beyond description.”

We can come up with all types of quack remedies for our ailment, but in the end we’ll find no healing virtue in any of them. What got us in the rut is what will get us out of it. In other words, the cure is to be found in the cause. And so, what is at the root of it? It’s actually very simple; somewhere along the way we lost the Wonder of it all. We allowed things to bring about a spiritual eclipse of Him. Our attention moved from the Giver to the gifts. “He who hath builded the house [no longer] hath more honour than the house.”

May each of us crawl to Christ, begging His forgiveness, for allowing our virtues to become our vices, thereby distorting our vision of Him.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Driving Force

"...the Spirit driveth him...driven of the devil..." It makes a great deal of difference who is sitting behind the wheel in our spiritual lives. The Spirit of God chauffeured Jesus; the devil drove the man of Gadara. The Master chose the Spirit to sit in the driver's seat; the maniac, Satan.

We, as Christians, need to be very careful of who the driving force is in our lives. In our story, both were "driven into the wilderness," but by two entirely different drivers. You can be sure the Spirit of God is not at the controls when there is frustration, anxiety, turmoil, confusion, and anger. Whenever God's Spirit is behind the wheel, there is always love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Don't allow a madman behind the wheel of your spiritual car.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sifted By Satan

“Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” It says of Abraham, the Patriarch, in the New Testament, that he was “strong in faith.” But, when you read the account of his life, in the Old Testament, you will find he staggered all over the place. Yet the Scriptures say, “He staggered not…” The answer? He had a strong faith but a weak flesh. Weak vessels can house strong materials.

Peter was like this. His courage failed him but not his confidence in God. The devil’s desire was the “trying of his faith,” which he wrote about in his first Epistle, some years later. Of all the things Jesus could have prayed for in this man’s life, it was for his faith. Paul tells us of its preeminent place, when he says, “Above all…faith.” For without it, it is impossible to please God.

Satan wanted to sift this saint in his sieve. He thought he would be the chaff that would fall to the floor, rather than the wheat that would stick to the sieve. He didn’t think Peter was the real thing, but he made the mistake, as he does with many of God’s children, of judging the book by its cover.

Christ’s intercession is not just general, but particular and personal. “I have prayed for thee.” Hallelujah! If no one else in this world prays for you today, you can be assured you have a Prayer Warrior interceding for you at the Father‘s right hand.