Sunday, November 30, 2008

Removing "Can't" From Our Dictionary

I can’t speak Hebrew or Greek. I can’t lift 500 pounds. I can’t fly a jet. I can’t lead a symphony orchestra. There are a thousand and one things I cannot do, that I would like to be able to do. But there is one thing I can do; I can do what I’m supposed to do.

I can be a good husband and father. I can be a trusted friend. I can be honest. I can live for God. Paul tells us “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The “all things” in the context are those things the Bible tells us we can do. Yet, in spite of this plain teaching, we have so many Christians who say, concerning living a life that honors Christ, “I can’t.” But in reality it’s, “I won’t.”

I had a handicapped preacher friend, now with the Lord, who used to say, “Can’t is not in the handicap dictionary.” And so it should be with the Christian. If we are not doing what the Scriptures require of us, it is because we are attempting to do them without the help of the Lord. “Without me ye can do nothing,” says Jesus. Philippians 4:13 teaches, it is not I without Christ; it is not Christ without I; it is I with Christ.

If God tells us to jump over a wall, we can do it. David said, “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” When God tells you to jump, ask Him, “How high?”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Background or Foreground

“And he is before all things…” Christ is to be first in line, at the head of the pack, if you please. I’m fearful that He is in the background, rather than the foreground, in many of our lives. The former word meaning, “the distant part of a scene; behind or subordinate to something.” The definition of the latter is “nearest the viewer.” It can be said, and rightly so, that scores of Christians today are like the prophets of old who “…stood to view afar off.”

Our relationship with Christ is to be “up close and personal.” What lover wants to court from a distance? You have to be close to Him, if you’re going to cling to Him. Saintly Brainard said, “I want to be so close to Jesus that I can hear His heart beat.” John the Beloved would have said, “Amen” to that statement, for, you remember it was he who leaned his head on Jesus’ bosom. When will we learn, familiarity is not intimacy.

The best way to get close to God is to make over His Son.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stars, Salvation, and Victory

“…one star differeth from another…” You’d be hard pressed to come up with a plan of salvation or a formula for victory in the scriptures. Why is this? Simply because, like the stars, no one of us is like the other. This is why it is so dangerous trying to emulate another’s spiritual experience, either in the former or latter case. We are to seek the Apostles teachings, not their experiences!

The Bible was written to meet the need of individuals, in the way each of us is going. We all travel different directions; therefore God meets us on the road we are traveling. Is it any wonder, for this reason, many believe the Bible contradicts itself? For example, to the self-righteous seeking salvation Jesus says, “Keep the commandments.” But to the convicted sinner Paul says simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the first case, it was to produce conviction, but in the second, conviction had already set in.

So it is in trying to live the Victorious Christian Life. There are many Christians who are habitually reading about the experiences of others, trying to relive them in their own lives. We are not identical in our natural makeup; therefore God deals with us on an individual basis. Allow the Lord to be as original with you as he has been with the ones you seek to copy. Say and do as little David did, when he put on Saul’s giant armour, “I cannot go with these…And David put them off him.”

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” (Charles Schulz)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

From Me, To Me

“He bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” So says God of His people of old. This is still pitifully true in the Church today, in spite of Paul’s admonition that “…we should bring forth fruit unto God.” We like take credit for something that comes from Him. “From me is thy fruit found.” But they mistakenly thought it was from themselves to themselves.

How prone we are to take the recognition for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, not realizing the fruit is for others to enjoy and not we ourselves. We not only take pride in the fruit He gives but also the praise. We like to call attention to ourselves, not to the glory of God. The Old Testament prophet says, “…they eat and drink to themselves,” but the Apostle to the Church tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat or all to the glory of God.”

Don’t forget: our fruit is derived from the “Root of David.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dusty Saints

“I exalted thee out of the dust.” What would be your first thought if you saw a frog sitting on top of a fencepost? Most would agree, someone put him there. And that would be correct. He certainly didn’t get there by himself. Yet, how often we Christians forget how we got where we are today. Let us remember our lineage, when traced back, originates from the dust. And no matter the position or possessions we attain in this life, we are still headed back to where we came from. “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Divine Sovereignty is at play in all lives, from birth to death. As Jesus told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all…except it were given thee from above.” God warned His people of old that when He raised them up, not to say, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this…” If they did, they’d end up where they started from. Humble Hannah said, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly…He raiseth up the poor out of the dust…to make them inherit glory.”

There is more truth to the idiom, “Your name is mud,” than we realize.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turning the Natural into the Supernatural

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Here, Paul is teaching the Corinthian believers, as well as us, that there is no difference between the sacred and the secular. To a Christian, all ground is holy ground. Our double-mindedness comes from the fact that we have sanctified the one, but not the other. You cannot divorce God from your everyday life. The supernatural is no more than putting God into the natural.

Putting God into the natural is unnatural to the world. But to us, it’s a very natural thing. If we exclude God from our everyday living, and only take Him into the “religious” part, then, the biggest part of our lives will be lived without God.

Christianity does not exclude ordinary, human activities. Paul tells us to go on with our jobs. He takes for granted Christians will go to dinner parties, including those given by pagans. Even our Lord attended a wedding, and provided them with wine.

It is not that doing such things is sinful; it’s doing them without God that makes them so sinful. He does not want to be a part of our lives, but all of it.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary when God enters it....even a bush.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Faith Considers Not

“…he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” It seems, God doesn’t give great promises until He puts the sentence of death upon all our human means in helping Him fulfill it. He does not want us to “…consider” anything that might invade our faith. Hebrews, that great book of faith, tells us we are to only consider Him.

The world, the flesh and the devil will offer many objections to our faith, but we need to allow God to answer these. Faith doesn’t reason; it rests. Whenever we begin to consider the circumstances and conditions that surround us and take our eyes off Christ, who gave the promise, we will drown in doubt. Ask Peter!

Abraham had hoped Ishmael, a product of him and Sarah’s own ingenuity would fulfill God’s promise. But, it was the birth of impossible Isaac that would fulfill it. Here we see, God sometimes fulfills one promise by denying another.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What More Can He Do?

“What could have been done more…that I have not done..?”
(Isa.4:4) God tells us in verse 7 of this chapter that His people are like a vineyard. And as men do to their physical vineyards to perfect them, God had done to His Spiritual vineyard. He performed all that is usually done to make His vineyard a healthy, fruitful one. He had fenced it in, cleared away the stones, planted in it the choicest vines; and He had built a wine-press. So He asks, in essence, “What more could I do than what I have done?”

And so it is with 21st century Saints. God has done everything to make us, His Elect, a holy and happy people. He chose us, gave us His perfect Word, and has shed upon us abundantly His Grace, Mercy, Peace, and Love. Most importantly, He gave His Darling Son, Jesus Christ, for the likes of us. I ask you, what more could we expect Him to do, than what He has already done? If we are not gratified with what He has already done for us, then there is nothing in this world, or the one to come, that will satisfy us.

It seems like not even God Himself can please some people.

Check the Price Tag

"Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” The reserved, conservative, religious Jews could only surmise that these Spirit-filled disciples had gone over the edge. They had become fanatical. Someone defined the word, when used in Christian circles today, as meaning “someone closer to God than me.”

There is a cost to being filled with the Holy Ghost. The lives of John the Baptist, Stephen, and Paul, along with a host of other humble believers, as well as Jesus, testify to this fact. As a preacher of old used to say, “There is no Pentecost without plenty-cost.” The price tag on a powerful race car is much more than that of a mope-along four cylinder.

All Christians want the power of God until they check the price tag.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Book and It's Author

Recently my wife and older son Andrew drove form our home in Northern CA. to the Los Angeles area. The purpose was to hear and meet an author my wife had been reading after; our son had recommended him to her. The book is entitled, “What’s So Great About Christianity?” The author’s name is Dinesh D’Souza. She was so taken up with the book she would not be satisfied until meeting the writer. She was thrilled when introduced to him by our son.

Is this not the way it should be in the Christian life? We begin by reading the Word of God; and then we are so impressed, we long to know the God of the Word. How sad to see so many Believers today talking about and quoting this Divine Book, who do not know, or have an intimate knowledge of, the One who wrote it? They stop short, spending their entire Christian life in the outer court at the Laver (type of the Word) rather than continuing on and entering the Holy of Holies, where the Glory was. Every time God rends the veil of their lives so they can enter in, they patch the veil back up.

The purpose of knowing God’s Word is that it will ultimately lead one to knowing Him. Toward the end of David’s life he wanted to show his son Solomon the importance of this great find, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy Father.” This was also Paul’s one great desire. As an old man, he tells the Philippians of this longing, “That I may know him…”

The end of all learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him. (John Milton)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Enlightened Elect

“[I]f it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” This warning implies such deception is not possible! Neither false Christs, nor false prophets, shewing great signs and wonders will be able to sway the saints away from their Saviour. Our Lord is emphatic; it is impossible to deceive His elect. The Good Shepherd tells us, "[My] own sheep… follow [me]: for they know my voice. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

We are told Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. And his apostles and ministers into apostles of Christ, and ministers of righteousness. These may lead the elect sheep temporarily astray, but never permanently away to stay. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” By the way, this temptation only works once for a brief time, if even then. For sure, there are no seconds! Shepherds tell us once a sheep is brought back to the fold from straying; they stay close to their shepherd from then on.

“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock…” (His sheep follow Him!)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spiritual Understanding

“…the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” The Bible was not written for theologians and scholars. For example, Paul’s Epistles were read or heard among a vast number of slaves and ordinary people. “Not many wise men…not many noble, are called.” The apostle did not say, “Not any,” but he did say, “Not many.” He took for granted that most of what he wrote would be understood by common, Spirit-filled Christians.

Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor. In every age, this section of society has been largely illiterate. Yet the elect among them were able to grasp the main principles He preached. Everything that has to do with getting to Heaven and how to live on this earth was made plain to them.

Questionable things in the Scriptures are left to the individual’s conscience. The hidden things belong to God alone. And the difficult passages? Well, your guess is as good as anyone else’s.

It is not the things I don’t understand in the Bible that disturb me; but those things that I do understand. (Mark Twain)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Maturity Marches On

I agree with C. S. Lewis when he wrote, “Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity. And where there is no continuity, there is no growth.” He went on to say that lack of maturity “consists not in refusing to lose the old things, but in failing to add new things.” Maturity, then, I would say, is always moving forward, experiencing the new while holding on to the old.

There is a pseudo-maturity today passing itself off as the real thing. You can always spot these fakers by the contempt they show others who are honestly struggling in the kindergarten of life, wanting to advance to a higher grade. This kind of individual is not manifesting maturity, but snobbery at its worst. These poor souls always want to give the impression they have arrived, while all the time, those they are trying to impress know they missed the train and are still standing on the platform.

Legitimate maturity is always gracious to an honest fault. It does not condemn weakness, but neither does it condone willful wrong. Immaturity can be tolerated but never iniquity. Maturity is patient with the former but has no time for the latter.

A mature Christian is not hard to recognize. There is one characteristic they all possess. And that is, they always allow the inferior, sinning saint to imagine they are superior to themselves. They are secure in who they are. I am sure you are familiar with the story of godly Abraham and immoral Lot. Here we see maturity always wins out!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today; Not Tomorrow

“And Moses said unto Pharaoh…when…And he said, To morrow.” The plague of frogs was everywhere—in the houses, ovens, bedchambers, etc. Yet, when Pharaoh had a choice of having these removed, he chose the next day, rather than taking care of the loathsome situation immediately. There used to be a sermon preached by an old camp meeting preacher entitled, “One More Night with the Frogs.” The intent was to show how ridiculous Pharaoh’s answer was.

But, to be truthful, how many of us Christians are just as foolish? Rather than heed the old adage, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” we choose to remain miserable a little bit longer. Our answer to God’s “When?” is “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow, I’ll confess my sin; tomorrow, I’ll claim the victory; tomorrow, I’ll right that wrong; tomorrow, I’ll turn a new leaf; tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow.

But what if tomorrow never comes? We are told to “Boast not thyself of to morrow...” And when it comes to important issues, “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day…”