Friday, October 30, 2009

*Do What You Can

“She hath done what she could,” Notice, Jesus didn’t say she did more than she could. You can only do what you can do. My wife used to sing a song entitled, Do What You Can Where You Are. I find only frustration awaits we who attempt to add to our God given abilities. The Bible way is, “Every man according to his ability.” This is true in every area of our Christian life!

It’s apparent that Paul knew the danger in taking more upon ourselves than God intended, when he said, “We stretch not ourselves beyond our measure.” Taking added responsibility in our life may seem commendable, but it just might end up being our undoing. It could be “the straw that breaks the camels back.”

To keep God’s people from worship and fellowship, the Devil’s Pharaoh will always come up with, “Let more work be laid upon [them].” Not only should you not add self-imposed burdens to your life, but you should not allow anyone else to; no matter who that person may be. To yourself, and others, you must learn to give a good, firm, “No”! God does not put upon us more than we can bear; neither should we!

Duties never conflict. (Bob Jones Sr.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

*Same-Alikes

When my youngest daughter, Charity, was small and would see things that matched, she would say, “They are same-alikes.” Well, the only thing God’s children are alike in is their principles. We all received a Divine disposition at the time of our Spiritual birth. This is true Christ-likeness. Other than this, we are like snowflakes or fingerprints; the Bible uses the stars to show our diversities.

This individuality necessitates our Heavenly Father, like any wise earthly one, to deal with each of His children accordingly. The Scriptures teach both general truths and specific; and so it is with God’s dealings with His “Little Ones.” For example, generally speaking, “Nothing is impossible with God.” But, specifically we’re told, “It is impossible for God to lie.” This principle also holds true in the Lord dealing with each of His Elect; that is, in a general and specific sense.

There are the general Commandments (ten) addressed to all the saints, but there are also specific commands given to individual Believer’s at different times and in various situations, as they go through life. This is one of the great dangers in taking biographies too seriously and trying to emulate the character written about. Let me illustrate. C.S. Lewis’ prayer-life consisted in request and committal; while Hudson Taylor’s was in claiming and getting things from God. Which was right? Who was most Spiritual? Both! This truth is found in Hebrews chapter eleven, where we find the dividing line in such lives is found in the words, “And others…”
Let God be as original with others as He is with you! (Oswald Chambers)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

*Tempting Temperaments

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Paul said it, but Peter could say “Amen” to this text. He did not know that the devil would use his natural Sanguine temperament to get him to fall. No wonder he wrote in his first Epistle “Arm yourselves.” Or as the adage goes, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Satan does not know our thoughts, but he does observe our natural temperament and tempts us accordingly. He does not tempt us contrary to our constitution. Whatever way the tide of the heart moves, the wind of temptation blows the same. The old farmer knows what grain is best for the soil. Whenever the devil baits his hook, it is always with something that fits our natural taste.

The devil shapes himself to the fashions of all men. If he meet
with a proud man, or a prodigal man, then he makes himself a
flatterer, if a covetous man, then he comes with a reward in his
hand. He hath an apple for Eve, a grape for Noah, a change
of raiment for Gahazi, a bag for Judas. He can dish out his
meat for all palates. He hath a latch to fit every shoe; he hath
something to please all conditions.
(Puritan Saying)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Benefits without Baggage

We are told that God “…daily loadeth us with benefits.” But some cannot enjoy these blessings for the excess baggage they carry. It is not the weight of His benefits that causes us to cave in, but the extra baggage we lug around. There’s a reason they call it luggage!

God gave us richly all things to enjoy, but all of us do not enjoy everything. The “all things” is up to one’s individual liking. A smorgasbord is for everyone, but the choice is according to each one’s taste. Not everybody likes broccoli, but it’s there for the ones who do.

Every Christian needs to read Romans chapter fourteen on a regular basis. This chapter should be mastered by all believers. Without a doubt, it would do away with the greatest part of the dissentions that are so prevalent among God’s people today.

The overall teaching of the chapter is that some cannot, while others can. If what we do cannot be done in good faith, then we are not to do it. If we do, there will be a continual nagging of conscience. If the head says yes, and the heart no, you will be wise to cease from it. You need these two witnesses to agree to the truth, if you’re to be established.

“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” There may be nothing wrong with your baggage, but there is if it keeps you from getting to where you want to go.

Friday, October 23, 2009

*Clothes Do Not Make the Person

God is not deceived by externals. It is only we who are impressed and taken in by them. We have a difficult time looking past the outer. Pharisaical movements and people, like the world, major on what a person does rather than who they are. What you look like, and do, are more important than what it is that motivates you. They think more of decorum than devotion. The inner robe of righteousness is passed over for the etiquette of ritualism.

Phariseeism loves public street corners where it can be seen of men, while true godliness longs for the inner chamber, where only God seeth in secret. The Pharisee wants to be called, “Rabbi, Rabbi,” by the people, rather than hear the Father say, “My son.” The pathway between the externalist and communion with God is grown over with grass; but the path between him and the praise of men is well trodden.

God’s way is always, “first that which is within.” Both Ezra and Nehemiah, when rebuilding the temple, began with the altar, and inner things. The outer always came last. If they had neglected the most important part, they would have been left with a monstrosity—yes, a beautiful temple for all to look upon and admire, but only a shell with no substance within, nothing that would attract God to it.

It is interesting that Jesus never once called attention to the externals, other than those in the lives of the Pharisees. We had better start concerning ourselves with what Jesus was concerned with: the heart, the inner man, the spirit within.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quibbling Over Quotes

A few months ago, I quoted in an article some cowboy sayings from a book I received as a Christmas gift. One of the one-liners contained the word “damn,” at which a young preacher took offence. You have to wonder what one does when reading in God’s “R” rated Book, the Bible, such words as, “whore,” “pisseth,” and “bastard.” And what about those sexy scenes in Song of Solomon, along with depictions of vivid violence as found in the A.V.1611, that leaves nothing to imagination? I guess they go to one of the many watered-down, tickling translations, which offend none of the thin-skinned saints.

When scriptures quote the devil, it neither commends him, nor agrees with what he said. On the other hand, when the Apostle Paul quotes one of the secular poets of his day, though not promoting the man, yet he does agree with what he says (Acts 17). And in Titus chapter one he quotes a false prophet, and goes so far as to say of one of his statements, “this witness is true.” Jesus was constantly quoting those with whom he did not agree. But he never “threw the baby out with the wash,” so to speak. On one occasion, He told His followers to do what the Pharisees said, but not to do what they did (Matt.23:3).

Quibblers are always looking through the wrong end of the telescope; they never see the big picture.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

*The Chamber of Our Mind

The Bible teaches a Christian can be either carnally or spiritually minded; the choice is theirs to make. I wonder if many of us prefer to think carnally, while trying to live spiritually. Or at least what passes off as being spiritual to our peers. It is important to this type person, what the brethren think of them, but they seem to care little of God’s estimation.

This brand of professing Christian doesn’t do what the world does; they just like to think about doing what the world does. We hear much about the sin of omission and commission, but what of the sin of intent. We commit this act because we like to think it is not a sin. But I’d venture to say this spiritual sin is one of the worst kinds of sin. Jesus said it is possible to be a murderer and adulterer without ever actually committing the act.

George McDonald says, “If we are to get rid of those things that defile us, we must go inside ourselves, be a convict, and scrub the floor of our cell.” I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for a scrub brush and mop!

Monday, October 19, 2009

*Temperaments Out of Control

The ever present danger in the Christian’s life is accepting and substituting the good for the best. It is possible for good to be the enemy of the best. Eve put good before God. The natural is not spiritual; the former mocks the latter, as Ishmael did Isaac. Natural temperament can bestow all its goods to feed the poor, and even give its body to be burned at the stake; yet be void of spirituality. The natural can never receive the things of the Spirit of God, no matter how well it passes itself off as being good.

The great peril of “natural niceties” is that one ends up thinking, “I…have need of nothing.” It will leave Christ on the doorstep of your life. Let us beware of flaunting our natural gifts as spiritual. C. S. Lewis writes, “The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.”

A naturally nice temperament is as corrupt and vile in God’s sight as a loathsome one, if it has not been crucified. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of not going to the funeral of your own independence.” Our natural only becomes divinely acceptable, when it is under the supernatural control of God.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

After the Miracle, the Means

“And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.” Once Jesus performs the supernatural in our lives, He expects us to use the natural. After the miracle, the means. True, the Lord will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but never will He do that which we can do. “[God] wilt make all his bed in his sickness”; but don’t look for Him to straighten the sheets once you’re up-and-around. Then you can make your own bed! God raised Jesus, but He folded His own grave clothes.

After the mountain is removed and drowning in the sea, we’re not to stand idle. As the old song goes, “These shoes were made for walkin.” When God did His part at the Red Sea, He told Moses to “get a move on,” that is to say, “go forward.” Far too many of God’s people are waiting for a miracle, while God is waiting for them to use the means He has put at their disposal. No one in the Bible had a miracle performed on his or her behalf, who was sitting around looking for one.

We are to use God-given means up to, and immediately following, the miracle. Miracles are the exceptions; means are the rule of life. Always be thinking about what you can do in hard situations; then when you come to the end of yourself, God will take up the problem. God still gets glory when we use our sanctified brain to get out of a mess, just as long as we realize that it is He who initiated the idea (Phil.3:12-13). We need to follow my wife’s favorite cartoon character’s advice, “Think, Think, Think,” says Winnie the Pooh.

Remember, it was Sovereignty that devised the means.

Friday, October 16, 2009

*Dusty Saints

“I exalted thee out of the dust.” What would be your first thought if you saw a frog sitting on 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 our lives, from birth to death. Even when one manipulates and schemes to obtain things, or to get to the top, as Baasha, God is permitting it. For, 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.

Let me quote two Old Testament saints who understood this truth. Humble Hannah said, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly…He raiseth up the poor out of the dust…to make them inherit glory.” And darling David penned, “He putteth down one, and raiseth up another.” Is it any wonder the apostle Paul testified, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

To forget where you came from is to end up there again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

*Loyalty to Jesus Christ

For over half a century my loyalty has been, is, and ever will be, first and foremost, to the person of Jesus Christ; all other relationships dwarf in comparison. In fact, looking from their perspective, one might surmise He is my one and only love. That all others, no matter how near and dear have to play “second fiddle” to Him, so to speak. I unashamedly confess this assessment as being one-hundred-percent true. I’m gloriously guilty as charged!

Almost as soon as the umbilical cord was cut in my New Birth, I read of the martyrdom of Polycarp. As a result, I promised Jesus Christ at the altar of devotion that I would forsake all others, to keep myself only unto him as long as I shall live? Many of my loved ones and friends through the years decided to live their lives without Christ; that has painfully necessitated me living my life without them!

The Martyrdom of Polycarp
Polycarp, disciple of the Apostle John, and Bishop of Smyrna, A.D. 156.
for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?

The proconsul asked him if he were Polycarp.

When he assented, the former counseled him to deny Christ, saying, "Consider thyself, and have pity on thy own great age;" and many other such-like speeches which they are wont to make.

The proconsul then urged him, saying, "Swear and I will release thee; - reproach Christ."

Polycarp answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?"

The proconsul again urged him, "Swear by the fortune of Caesar."

Polycarp replied, "Since you still vainly strive to make me swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you express it, affecting ignorance of my real character, hear me frankly declaring what I am -- I am a Christian - and if you desire to learn the Christian doctrine, assign me a day, and you shall hear."

Hereupon the proconsul said, "I have wild beasts; and I will expose you to them, unless you repent."

"Call for them," replied Polycarp.

"I will tame thee with fire," said the proconsul, "since you despise the wild beasts, unless you repent."

Then said Polycarp, "You threaten me with fire, which burns for an hour, and is soon extinguished; but the fire of the future judgment, and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly, you are ignorant of. But why do you delay? Do whatever you please."

The proconsul sent the herald to proclaim thrice in the middle of the Stadium, "Polycarp hath professed himself a Christian."

Which words were no sooner spoken, but the whole multitude, both of Gentiles and Jews, dwelling at Smyrna, with outrageous fury shouted aloud, "This is the doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the subverter of our gods, who hath taught many not to sacrifice nor adore."

They now called on Philip the Asiarch, to let loose a lion against Polycarp. But he refused, alleging that he had closed his exhibition. They then unanimously shouted, that he should be burnt alive. For his vision must needs be accomplished - the vision which he had when he was praying, and saw his pillow burnt. The people immediately gathered wood and other dry matter from the workshops and baths.

When they would have fastened him to the stake, he said, "Leave me as I am; for he who giveth me strength to sustain the fire, will enable me also, without your securing me with nails, to remain without flinching in the pile."

Upon which they bound him without nailing him. So he said thus: - "O Father, I bless thee that thou hast counted me worthy to receive my portion among the martyrs."

As soon as he had uttered the word "Amen," the officers lighted the fire. The flame, forming the appearance of an arch, as the sail of a vessel filled with wind, surrounded, as with a wall, the body of the martyr; which was in the midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver refining in the furnace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Manhood of Elijah

The Bible tells us, “Elijah was a man...” In today’s society, there is a great emphasis on certain forms of life becoming extinct. One particular species that falls under this category is a real man; he is a rare breed. There seems to be few who care that he is passing off the scene. I remember, as a boy, coming from a broken home, and having no masculine example to follow. Yet, in spite of this, my greatest desire was to be a man’s man. This desire has never left me throughout the years. Just because one is a male does not necessarily make him a man. Nor does being a Christian guarantee it.

What is a man? It’s neither brawn nor brains. They come in all different sizes and vary in intellect. But all have one characteristic that marks them: in any situation that arises in life, you can always depend on him to do what needs to be done, on the basis that it simply needs to be done. It matters not to him that his personal safety, comfort, and reputation may be in jeopardy.

He is not without shortcomings. All are aware of them. He doesn’t put cosmetics on his blemishes. What you see is what you get. But of one thing you can be sure; when he faces his Goliath’s in life, He will not run from them, for he doesn’t know how to retreat. His inbred principles will not allow him to flee from his responsibilities. His principles are not negotiable; they are unchangeable. They are not open for debate. To the Christian man, they are eternal principles.

*No Fool's Paradise

“Experience is the best teacher.” I’ve heard that from childhood. I don’t believe it. Instruction is the best teacher. But, admittedly, experience comes in a close second. Most of us refuse the best way and choose to learn the hard way. It’s important to realize experience is not out to deceive us; it’s out to teach us. If we do not learn from bad experiences, we are destined to repeat them.

We are to live and learn. Not to learn is a miserable way to live. To play the fool once is understandable. To do it a second time is inexcusable. To this type of person, you can justifiably attach the adage, “There’s no fool like an old fool.” Or, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Let’s stop playing the fool.

Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools. ~Irish Proverb

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

*Fusing

"Doing the will of God from the heart." Knowing the will of God has to do with the head; doing the will of God, with the heart. The former is a must, and has to do with the intellectual; but the latter is just as important, dealing with the emotional. The heart is where the fire lies; therefore the will of God is to be done with fervency.

Paul said, "For if I do this thing willingly…but if against my will…" The will of God is not to be done grudgingly, but delightfully. Jesus said, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." They did not have to drag Him to the Cross. The will of God is always more than we bargained for. Therefore, we need to cease our bartering with God. Jacob would be the first to tell you it doesn't work.

When the head and the heart fuse together, you have a completed Christian.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

*A.W. Tozer, the Devil, and Us

For those who may not know, A.W. Tozer was one of the greatest devotional writers of the 20th Century, and in some minds, among the grandest in the Church’s history. He met the devil head-on at every turn in life. And as a result, to quote his own words, “…that doesn’t make a man easy to live with.” Speaking to God’s people, he went on to say, “It is a delightful thing when you know that you are close enough to the adversary that you can hear him roar! Too many Christians never get into ‘lion country at all.”

I have found run-of-the-mill Christians never get into the arena with this fiercest of all God’s creatures. Their only boast is that they have put some tamed baby kitten to scrambling from them for fear. But to say they have resisted “The Big Cat,” and put him on the run, in this they’re embarrassingly mute. One can only conclude the reason for this is because they’re going the same way; and it’s improbable that you will run into someone, unless you’re coming from opposite directions.

To Satan, those early Christians were delicious “cat food.” Today’s professors are disgustingly tasteless to him; they have lost their savor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

*Vanity Fair

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Does Ecclesiastes teach life is not worth living—that all of life is gloom? Yes, if you mean living it apart from God. Ecclesiastes is about the everyday world outside of Christianity. Man, in his natural state can never be satisfied. Saint Augustine had it right when he said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.”

Putting God in every situation and circumstance is what transforms life from drudgery to delight. Work, play, studies, and social responsibilities all take on a new light when the Creator is put before His creation and creatures. Those who subtract God from their lives are full of pessimism and skepticism. They are a sad lot, not a happy one.

Ecclesiastes exposes the emptiness and shallowness of the world. It weans us from the love of the world by showing us that all the world’s wisdom, wealth and ways are vanity. This little book is a Divine commentary of Jesus’ words, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.”

The only way the world can fill the Christian’s heart is to evict God from it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

*No Private Corners

Adam had a level playing field before the Fall. But afterward, it was not so. Since then, mankind, like children trying to climb a muddy hill, keeps slipping, sliding, and falling. And by no means is this voided by becoming a Christian, for we still retain the Adamic nature. True, we have the Spirit’s indwelling to enable us, but Jesus reminded the disciples that though the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. A strong faith must still contend with a weak flesh. Ask Abraham, who was strong in the faith, but weak in the flesh.

Adam’s fall was the result of wanting to live independent of God, and that is why we believers, like the children mentioned above, slip, slide, and fall. And when doing so, we recreate Adam’s fall. Lets face it; no sooner are we out of bed, and having recognized God’s rights to our lives ,we take them back again before we reach the breakfast table. We dethrone Him and replace our self-will. We have forgotten our place. It’s at the foot of the throne, kneeling. Not sitting on it, ruling.

We are told in the Scriptures that “…ye are not your own.” There is no area of our lives that we can say to God, “This is my little corner; stay out of it.” Why? Because the four corners of the earth are His, and so is every corner of our lives.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beware of the Middle Person

Those who use the acrostic, Jesus-Others-You as the true formula for joy, seem to always emphasize the last on the list as the greatest hinderer. But to touch the middle portion is a no-no. If one lives for self it is considered appalling; but if for others, there is applauding. The worldly philanthropist lives his life for others, but God receives no glory. Putting others first is no recipe for joy. You can be as miserable doing this as those are who live for themselves; ask any policeman, fireman, or doctor.

You will never get into hot water with the brethren for glorifying God, but you sure will by glorifying Him at others’ expense. To this day, Jesus is misunderstood by Christians who possess a humanistic spirit; and it is for something He said along this very line. Our Lord told His disciples that their love for him should so surpass their love for others, even their own, that it would look like hate in comparison. True, the two great commandments are to love God and others. But if we put the latter before the former, we wind up in the humanist camp, rubbing shoulders with them.

The Puritans, like ourselves, had short-comings, but God being supreme was not one of them. Every modern-day Christian should have a few Puritan writers on their bookshelf, which they read after on a regular basis. It will keep you focused, as the saying goes.

The absence of joy in a Christian’s life can usually be traced to someone taking God's place!

Friday, October 2, 2009

*Honorable Men and Women

“Naaman…was…honourable…but he was a leper.” Honor doesn’t negate defects in one’s life. We, like Naaman of old, can also be respected of our Master. In spite of all our shortcomings, we can still be honorable men and women. God knew about our undesirable traits when He saved us, but these did not turn away His love for us. Nor do these defective characteristics turn His head from us now. A marred vessel can be sparkling on the inside.

The greatest legacy we can leave our loved ones and friends is that we were honorable men and women. Beethoven said, “To me the highest thing, after God, is my honor.” Alexander Pope wrote, “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.” And the father of our nation said, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “honest man.”

I for one want to be on God’s honor-roll. I know of no greater epitaph than “He was an honorable man.”

The only garment of clothing a man or woman needs in their wardrobe is “Honor,” it will last them a life-time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Those Confounded Distractions

The word “distract” comes from the Latin and means “to draw apart.” Webster defines it: to draw the mind away in another direction. The world, the flesh, and the devil will go to any extreme if they can divert a child of God’s thoughtfulness away from Christ. And the means used is not always evil and sensual; it can be good and scriptural.

To place one’s attention on the house, rather than the Builder; to be occupied with Moses and Elijah, and not concentrate on the Man in the middle; to be given to constant introspection, and not have Jesus as the center of our lives, can be more effective than all the other toys our devilish distracter dangles before us.

But, at the same time we must beware of placing too much attention on being distracted, lest that becomes the chief distraction. As someone has said “No noise is so emphatic as the one you are trying not to listen to.” We must accept the fact distractions will always be with us in one form or another. They are like the frontage road that runs parallel to the freeway. Though it’s there and you are conscious of it, you need not get sidetracked.