Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Great Escape

“I will disguise myself...” The person who said this did not want others to recognize him for who he was. How many of us are like this. We spend our lives running from reality. Because we are not comfortable in our own skins, we try to incarnate ourselves in another’s, trying to be someone we are not.

My elder son, Andrew, made a statement to me some time ago that I thought was profound. He said, “Dad, most Christians are trying to run away from their humanity.” Strange, that our Lord took upon Him the form of humanity, while we are trying to deny ours. We cannot escape the fact that we belong to the human race. We Christians—like it or not; admit it or not—have all the faults, frailties, failings, and feelings of the common man. The one main difference is that the Christian has God to sustain and help him.

It is not the super-human Christian, but the sincere-human Christian that impresses humanity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Selective Hearing

A.W. Tozer has an article entitled, “Listen To the Man Who Listens To God.” This is difficult for today’s carnal culture that puts so much emphasis on the external “earthen vessel,” rather than the “treasure” within it. We like to pick and choose the pitcher we drink from. "The fine china, if you please, not that old chipped stuff!"

Concerning the building of the Temple, David told his young son, Solomon, that God’s Word came to him explaining why Solomon would build it and not David himself. But when you check the reference, you’ll find that it was the prophet Nathan God used to relay His message to the King. It was the lesser, as the old-timers used to say, telling "his betters” what he was to do. It was a plain prophet who instructed “the man after God’s own heart.” From this we learn, King David considered no one beneath him! He was a good listener, whoever was speaking for God.

It was because, no doubt, Paul’s “bodily presence [was] weak” and “his speech contemptible” that many of the carnal Christians at Corinth chose to listen to eloquent Apollos over Paul. In Acts chapter twenty-seven, Paul warns the ship's builder and master of impending danger, but he would not heed his words. The experts were listened to over Paul, and this to their own peril. Later, in the midst of a terrible storm, the old preacher said to them, “Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me.” Paul was one of those people we dislike immensely, one who reminded them, “I told you so.”

God sometimes uses strange instruments to speak to His people. Ask Balaam!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Prodigal's Brother's Problem

The Prodigal’s brother’s problem can be ours, if we’re not careful. He majored on what his brother was in the past, rather than accepting who he was in the present. Paul admonishes us to “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” And one of the things we’re to emulate is the Lord’s not concerning Himself with a person's past, but seeing each individual in their present condition.

Contrary to some teaching, there is no “eternity past,” or “eternity future.” All there is is the eternal present. We are prone to live in time past, or its future; but God lives in the eternal present. We are told, “God is.” And as to faith, the scripture says, Now faith.” The Great “I Am,” is not, was, or will be. Therefore, all God’s dealings with mankind and the world in which he lives, is in the eternal present.

And so we see God accepts and deals with His children in their present condition, whatever that state may be good or bad. He will not condemn one who has made a mess of his or her past, who is now living for Him. On the other hand, neither will he commend any for past achievements and allow their present life, if not God-honoring, to slide by unnoticed, and not dealt with.

God concerns Himself with, not what we were; but who we are now!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Short Memories

We all have short memories; we’re like Israel of old of whom it is recorded, “They soon forgat…” Samuel Johnson said, “We need to be reminded more often than we need to be instructed.” Most certainly, it’s wrong to remember those things in the past that stop us in our tracks; but it is right to be reminded of those things that keep us going forward.

Peter, writing to the scattered saints in various places, tells them the purpose of his second letter to them. It was to remind them of some important principles they had learned in their past. He, unlike many teachers today, did not have some new truth for their present condition. His death was imminent, and he wanted to stir up memories of some old fundamental truths they’d learned.

We need to be reminded from time to time what life is all about. The world has a low view of life. Their interest is only in politics, the economy, social conditions, etc. That God has a plan for every life never enters their mind. To them, life is all about pleasure: eating, drinking, and making merry. They forget this world is an Inn where we spend a night before moving on.

Happy is the man or woman that has yielded his or her life to their Maker. And who is fulfilling His plan for them on this earth. Any life that is not glorifying God in all that they do is not living; their only existing. There is an old classic movie entitled, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And it is, for those of us who breathe only for Him!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crediting the Creditors

Though the old saying, “Giving credit, where credit is due,” is not spelled out in the Bible, its principle is. One such deserving people are those who give the credit, just not those who receive it. We need to give some credit to the creditors.

It seems exalting oneself at another’s expense is the vogue thing today. It takes real heart-felt humility to put the spot-light on someone else and off of us. Pride loves to parade itself as if it were the only one in the marching procession. We like all eyes to be upon us.

The next time someone gives you credit for something, take a minute to appreciate the humility it took to sincerely do so. It’s an easy thing to take credit, to be on the receiving end, but not always easy to give it. Many times it’s a thankless endeavor!

I love the way the translators of the K.J.V puts it in their dedicatory, concerning those who are “eaten-up," so to speak, with themselves. They’re described as, “…self-conceited Brethren who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil.”

When credit is due another, pay what is owed them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

*High-Souled

James Stalker, in his book, The Life of Christ, refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “High-Souled.” Celestial air is too thin for worldlings; they pass out. On the other hand, this earth’s atmosphere will cause those who are high-born to faint. This is why no child of God should be anchored to this world. The golden rule for overcoming temptation is going higher. Snakes pass out at high altitudes. We should always keep our souls in an elevated mood.

When a Child of God takes his or her place, by faith, in the Heavenlies with Christ, far above all principalities and powers, it is then the magnetic pull of this world loses its draw. The world’s invitation to the saint has always been, “Come down.” God’s has forever been, “Come up hither.” Let us join Caleb’s Clan, by following his challenge, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”

Nothing is more contrary to a heavenly hope than an earthly heart. (William Gurnall)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fiddles

One of the definitions of the word fiddle is, “to tinker with nervously.” I remember a story told about the late Dr. Bob Jones Sr. sitting in a vesper service at the school. It seems a young lady had spent some time on stage tuning her violin before bringing a special presentation. Dr. Bob was known to be a very impatient man. He believed, as they say in “getting the show on the road.” After the service the old Christian philosopher told his son, then president of the university, “The next time that little girl plays; tell her I want her to come out of the wings fiddlin’.”



It is said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” I’m afraid this is true of many of God’s children today; their just fiddlin’ around. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, while we are debating nonsensical issues, jockeying for positions, exalting ourselves at other’s expense, and living only for ourselves. It’s time we stopped our tinkering and got down to business. We need to fiddle, not fiddle around! To any who might think this is not an important issue I say, “Fiddlesticks,” (you look up the meaning).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hunky-Dory

Life is not all fun and games. It’s difficult for some Christians to accept this. That is, the fact that God’s predestined plan for them involves perplexing problems. Joseph found this out. God stripped away all his comforts to give him sinew of soul. The little eaglets would never fly if their parents didn’t make the nest disagreeable. But by doing so, they’re able soar to heights where it seems the air is almost celestial.

Joseph’s dire circumstances did not bring him to the low level of blaming the One who designed them, nor was he bitter toward those who were used to fulfill them. He saw God behind it all, and like his Lord, forgave those who were the instruments of cruelty. Unless one has a good, firm hold on Romans 8:28, he or she will inevitably go through life blaming either God or others, for his or her situation. Such a broken record is difficult to listen to. They are caught in a groove, and the repetition is monotonous.

Though some abuse it, and others misunderstand it, to believe and rest in the Sovereignty of God is the most blissful place on earth to pillow one’s weary head. It is only when we learn to do this that everything becomes hunky-dory. The word means, perfectly satisfied!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inside-Out Thinking

I am a strong advocate of, as they say, “Thinking outside the box.” But I must qualify my statement; you must first do a little thinking inside the box. If not, you’re no better than an “arm chair scholar.” And who wants to take advice from one who has never been out of his or her easy chair?

Solutions seem to be received more readily from one who can say, “I sat where they sat.” The blessed Lord Jesus was such a person. His life was not spent in isolation from civilization, but in participation with humanity. As the old timers would say, “He dwelt smack-dab in the middle of mankind.

To see life only from the outside leaves one heartless; but to see it only from the inside, helpless. I like what G.K. Chesterton said in his little book, “Wit and Wisdom.” Commenting along the lines we have been discussing he writes, “I would always trust the old wives’ fables against the old maids’ facts.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Psychology of Routine

A young man once made the statement to Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher that nothing ever happened when he preached. Spurgeon asked, “You don’t expect something to happen every time, do you?” To which the younger replied, “Well, I guess not every time.” Spurgeon smiled and said, “That’s your problem, you don’t expect it.”

I can truthfully say before God that in more than 50 years of ministering the Word of God, I cannot remember a time that I didn’t expect the Lord to bless in some way. We have come to accept the usual. We are accustomed to the customary. Somewhere in the past we sentenced ourselves to the dungeon of religious routine. We no longer expect the unexpected. We have become “minor prophets”; we can predict next Sunday’s service with acute accuracy.

When I was a pastor a lady once said to me, “I don’t like to be gone on Sundays, I’m afraid I’ll miss something.” Christians have every right to expect God to do something on their behalf, if He promised it in His Word! David said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” And his son Solomon added, “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.”

No child of God who possesses and holds firm to a Divine Expectation, will ever be disappointed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Favorite Poem

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith and love and every grace Might more of His salvation know And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray And He I trust has answered prayer But it has been in such a way As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour At once He'd answer my request And by His love's constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death? "Tis in this way" The Lord replied "I answer prayer for grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me, That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

(John Newton)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Glorifying God

The man Christ Jesus spent the whole of His earthly life (brief but full) glorifying God. But glorifying God to Him meant it would be at His own personal expense. I’m sure it never crossed His mind it could be done without paying a dear price.

And He never shirked from anteing up, though it ultimately cost Him everything. He emptied Himself that God might be glorified. Truly He was the fulfillment of the drink offering of the Old Testament, pouring Himself out to Jehovah. There was not a drop left that wasn’t offered up to God. “He… poured out His soul unto death.”

The greatest prayer a saint will ever pray is, “God glorify thyself, and do it at my expense.” But before you do, sit down first and count the cost.

To glorify God is to make Him look good!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Word to the Intelligentsia

I personally do not know of anything more magnetic in the academic world than intellectual simplicity. This, no doubt, is what Paul was referring to when he warned the learned Corinthians of not forgetting the simplicity that is in Christ. Just because a great book on higher learning is on the bottom shelf, doesn’t make it any less so. One advantage of having the cookies on the lower shelf is that everyone can enjoy them, just not the “big people.”

I like to think of the intellect as the capacity to hold knowledge, and wisdom as enabling one to dispense it. Or to put it another way, intellect is the bucket, knowledge the fluid poured in, and wisdom the dipper that distributes it.

Though Jesus’ intellect was fathomless, and His knowledge endless, when He disbursed truth to the people, it was ordinary, familiar words He used. The greatest sermon ever preached was the Sermon on the Mount. Notice He used a simple dipper that they were all accustomed to, in satisfying their thirsty souls. Is it any wonder we are told, “…the common people heard Him gladly?”

Character is higher than intellect. ~Ralph

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking the High Ground

When Joshua was in the valley fighting, Moses was on high ground praying for him. And when the disciples were in the midst of a raging storm on the sea, Jesus was on high praying for them. Any informed military man knows, in a battle with your enemy it is to your advantage to take the high ground.

Though a child of God stands on the earth, he is seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Practically speaking we’re here; but positionally, we are there. When dealing with Spiritual matters, it is always to be done from the standpoint of the latter. Too many Christians live under the circumstances, not realizing God has placed us “far above” them.

Whenever crises arise in our lives we are to take a birds-eye-view of them. We’re to look at each predicament through a telescope, not a microscope. If you do the latter you will be so close to the trees you’ll not be able to see the forest. Remember, God carried old John “to a great and high mountain” so he could see the over-all picture.

To look at everything that transpires in our lives from God’s perspective brings it into the right perspective! And we can only do this when we obey His voice to “come up hither.” Once you have by faith appropriated the truth of being seated with Him in the heavenlies, you’re there! Never forget, Satan hates “higher-up" Christians.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daily Dependence

There are few things in the Christian life that are once-for-all settled. Certainly our salvation tops the list in this brief category (Heb.10:10). But most things are on-going. For example, we are told God gives out His benefits on a daily basis. Israel found they were to be daily dependent during their forty year pilgrimage in the desert.

God has arranged things so that the Christian’s life is to be lived in perpetual day by day reliance upon His faithfulness. Thus He keeps our lives from becoming boring and matter-of-fact. For, says He, “Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

It’s assuring to know He’s planned ahead for each new day. And exciting to anticipate what new things He has in store for us on any given day. David knew his days were in Deity’s hands, and so he penned, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had been done. (C.S. Lewis)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Finding Your Niche

The word “niche” comes from the French, “to nest.’” Some of its definitions are: a recess in a wall; a cranny, or hollow place, as in a rock. But the meaning I want to apply to each of us is this: “a position well suited to a person who occupies it”. I find many today, both young and old, who have never found their niche in life. And if they have, many are not content with it, for one reason or the other.

Happy is the man or woman who has found their God-ordained vocation. And happier are they who do not try to fit everyone else into it! It’s a great injustice to others to put them on a guilt trip for not having the same zeal, vision, and burden as you do for your individual calling. To do so, spreads others so thin that they lose their own particular savor, thus leaving their talent tasteless.

It’s impossible to get personally involved in every ministry, regardless of how scriptural it may be. To support every worthy cause would leave one a pauper; and to pray for each of them, well, there are not enough hours in a day. This is why it is so important to get God’s direction before getting involved in any of the many honorable causes in Christianity today. We are not to let our emotions, affections, or reason determine our involvement, but “the still, small voice” of God.

Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach the Word but was “…forbidden of the Holy Ghost.” Then he attempted to go to a place called Bithynia, “…but the Spirit suffered them not.” After this, in a night vision, the words came distinctly to him, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” It seems we all must come to the end of our own human reasoning and night fall upon us, before we find our niche in this life.

If ‘niche’ means ‘nest,’ let us be happy in the one God made just for us.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Legacy of a Godly Example

The movie, “City by the Sea,” is about the Castro Revolution and how it affected one Cuban family. Andy Garcia, himself of Cuban descent, both directed and starred in it. There is a scene toward the end where Garcia’s character is leaving for America. In it, his once well-to-do, but now weak and aged father, says to him, “I have left you so little my son.” To which Garcia makes this great and profound statement, “How can you say that? You left me the wealth of your example.”

Interestingly, before Jesus went away, He said to His children, “I have given you an example.” And they were the richer for it! Will we be able to say this to our children before leaving this world? Will we leave them the wealth of our example?

My oldest daughter Leah wrote a song years ago, entitled, A Goodly Heritage.

I may not have riches as some others may,
But I have a mother who knows how to pray;
And maybe there are some things I missed in my youth,
But I have a father who stands for the truth.

And if in the future my parents pass on,
To dwell in that city we’ve come to call home;
They may not leave me the goods of this world,
But I will inherit their God and His Word!

I have a goodly heritage;
I’m blessed with things you don’t see.
I have a goodly heritage,
And that is worth far more to me.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good without God

It seems to me, in the controversial passage of Romans chapter seven, verses fifteen through twenty-five that we have a sinful man (vv.17, 20, 23) trying to be a good man (vv.19,21) without the God Man (v.25).

C.S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” Paul found you can’t bypass God, trying to be good. Our Lord said as much when He said, “…there is none good but one, that is, God.” Therefore, the only way for a man to be truly good, is to get God into him!

One of Satan’s main goals in the Fall was to tempt man to side-step God, and exchange Him for good alone. You can be good without God; but only in the world’s estimation! It is not good enough for it to be said of a man, “He’s a good man.” But, like Barnabas, of old, “He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost.”

A Godly saint trumps a good sinner every time