Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twisted Lives

Someone made the statement to me recently that life can be complicated. My reply was that it was people who complicate things, not life itself. Actually, when you think of it, life is fairly a simple thing. It is we humans that tangle everything up. To quote my dear wife, “No one can get themselves in the mess that humans do.”

Why is it that so many, whose lives are in a mess, stay that way? They never seem to find a starting point; their lives are continually in disarray. I find most, if not all in this condition, simply are not willing to take the time and patience required to unravel the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.

One little helpful philosophical saying that the Lord gave me years ago is, “Begin where you are.” How many tangled balls of yarn lie in some old dusty drawer, never to be untangled by one who intends to someday? How sad; something beautiful and useful could be made from that muddled mess, had someone simply begun.

One thing is for sure in life; you’ll never get there if you don’t start!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Unfinished Life

In his insightful little book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, secular writer Richard Carlson has a chapter entitled “When You Die, Your ‘In Basket’ Won’t Be Empty.” He tells us it is the nature of an in- basket to be full; it’s not meant to be empty. He reminds us that when we die there will still be unfinished work to do.

We are told Paul finished his course, and that the two witnesses in Revelation finished their testimony. But their ministries go on, churches are still being built, and testimonies are still being lived out. Jesus interprets the meaning of a finished life when He says, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” That is, He finished what God had planned for His life.

Most things found in our in-basket are not that important. Seldom, if ever, will you find an emergency in an in-basket. Frustration comes when we try to empty it out. New things are being added to it daily, and you’ll never catch up. Don’t worry about it. When we’re gone someone else will continue getting the odd jobs done. Don’t live out your life from an in-basket. Enjoy what matters; occupy yourself with family and friends, not a “to do” list.

It’s a humbling thought that life will go on without us!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

*Fullness Can Beget Forgetfulness

“Lest when thou...art full...thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God.” I try to read Deuteronomy chapter eight on a regular basis, and I encourage others to do the same for their own Spiritual welfare. Though it need not be, many of God’s people allow fullness to translate into forgetfulness.

The Bible abounds with warnings and examples of this pitfall. Read Psalm 106, and see how quickly Israel was to forget God their Savior after each miracle performed on their behalf. Sodom’s doom was “...fullness of bread.” The rich fool left God out of his life when his barns were full. Listen to God’s indictment of his people in Hosea: “[T]hey were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” And what Christian is not familiar with the Laodicean philosophy: “[I] have need of nothing.” The wise man said, “Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord.” We need to be careful that our full souls do not cause us to loathe the sweet things of God. If we do, our blessings will become curses.

“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.” (Jer.22:21)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Choice is Yours

"Choose you..." This is a term and principle found throughout the Scriptures. Once we are saved, God does not generally do our choosing for us, whether in the spiritual or physical realm. Usually, in both big and small matters, He leaves the choice to us. Though He always can do the choosing, He seldom does. He created us with different temperaments, likes and dislikes. In a wide variety of things, we each have our individual preferences.

When we come to the everyday things of life, some of us can come across as being "spiritual," when, in reality, it is pseudo-spirituality. God doesn't mind our choosing things like what we eat or wear. He leaves it up to us as to color, texture, and taste. As someone has said, "When God has had His way with us, then we can have our way." The main thing with God is, whatever we do is to be to His glory.

Though God foreknows everything in our lives, He does not necessarily foreordain it. If everything was foreordained, we'd have no responsibility. We'd be robots. God wants me to be satisfied and happy. And there are certain things that would hinder this if I could not choose. My free-will is no threat to God’s sovereignty!

Choose what you will as long as you have chosen God's will first.

Friday, December 25, 2009

You Can't Have it Both Ways

“And a certain ruler… [said]…Good Master…And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” This new age of young people has fallen, as the old adage goes, “hook, line, and sinker,” for the New Age teaching. That is, that Jesus Christ was simply a good man. This, they think, makes them respectable. But under this facade lies the same pagan.

While on earth, Jesus Christ said He was God, and He accepted worship as God. As C.S. Lewis so aptly brings out, “Jesus was a Liar, Lunatic, or the Lord of Glory.” They think of themselves as really spiritual elitists because they believe, they say, in God. But James tells us the devils believe this. In fact, demons go them one better, they believe Jesus is the Christ of God. It’s this liberating truth satanic powers want to keep hidden from this younger generation.

Interestingly, these empty hearted professors think like all empty religionists, that you can know God without His Christ. But the truth is, one cannot know God without Christ. Jesus’ words to the church goers of His Day, those who rejected Him, but professed they knew God, lays it out plainly in no uncertain terms, saying that no man can know God unless He Himself reveals Him to that person.

Christ is God’s last Word to this world; and God always gets the last Word!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

*Missing at the Party

Luke records the only single incident of the boyhood of Jesus, as well as His first spoken words. He was twelve years old, and Mary and Joseph had taken Him to Jerusalem for the yearly feast of Passover. When they left, they, unintentionally, left Jesus behind. Traveling with a caravan, Mary thought Him to be with Joseph, or one of His kin. Joseph, no doubt, felt the same. A day out, they discovered He was missing. They searched for Him among their relations, then the next day, traveled back to Jerusalem, and on the third day, they found Him in the temple.

We must be careful during religious festivities that we do not lose sight of Christ. It was not while they were fasting that they lost Him, but while they were feasting. Fond memories of Him in the past are not actually fellowship with Him in the present.

If you have lost sight of Christ during this season of the year, it would be well to emulate Mary and Joseph: “When they found him not, they turned back again...” You’ll always find Him where you lost Him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aquainted With God

“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” When the Word of God (A.V.1611) speaks of being acquainted with someone or something, it does not mean what we generally take it to mean today. Rather than a slight familiarity, it can mean a deep knowledge of the subject. For example, Jesus was “acquainted with grief.”

Much, in some circles, is made of the Word of God, but little of the God of the Word. The purpose of the former is to reveal to us the latter. To stop short with the first is to remain in the Outer Court of the Tabernacle, so to speak, without ever entering the Holy of Holies where God abides. The Laver (type of the Word of God), which was without the Veil, was a preparatory means in one’s approach to God within the Veil.

Many pride themselves and flaunt the fact that they know the Word of God. But after spending only a few minutes in their presence, it is obvious they know little or nothing of The Book’s author! Satan can quote scripture, the Pharisee’s had a working knowledge of it, and the Scribe’s were considered interpreters of the scriptures; yet none of these had a deep and meaningful relationship with God.

“John Owen and John Calvin knew more theology than John Bunyan or Billy Bray, but who would deny that the latter pair knew their God every bit as well as the former?” (J.I. Packer)

Moving To the Front of the Line

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Solomon could certainly attest to this (2 Chron.1:11-12). When we learn to give up our coveted place at the front of the line and place Him at the head, we will never find ourselves at the end of it. Adherence to this Divine rule is absolute for a happy Christian life. Our life now must be subservient to the next.

The obtaining of the necessities of life (and many times, its niceties) is a direct result of putting Christ at the forefront of it. All additives tacked on are for this one reason.

No Christian gets ahead by being first.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'll Be Seeing You

A line from a beautiful love song of the 40’s say’s, “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places.” Well, in John’s gospel he records the words of the Lover of our souls, before leaving this world, promising, “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice.” And the old saint continues this exciting anticipation in his first epistle by telling us, “We shall see him as he is.” And in the Revelation, alone on Patmos, nearing his end, he adds “And [we] shall see his face.”

The gospel song puts it this way, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see; and I look upon his face, the One who saved me by his grace.” As the old timer’s would say of this promise of seeing our Lord face to face, “You can hang your hat on it.” That is, you can depend on it. I like the way Job put it, “For I know…after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh (Resurrection) shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold.”

Let me close by once again quoting “…the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Speaking to all the family of God he writes, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Suppose it is All True

Paul asked his readers to, “…bear with me a little in my folly.” I’d like to request the same of mine. Please try and be graciously patient with this old man for a couple or three brief paragraphs, and hear me out.

I want to ask each of you a question: Suppose it is all true? That is, the conspiracy theories, that the saints will go through a tribulation period, and that our beloved nation will become a second or third rate power in the near future? Would such unimaginable events leave you “a sack of nerves”; or instead, one who, for lack of a better term, can “roll with the punches?”

Years ago, when I was a pastor, one of our young ladies, a beautiful eighteen year old, newly married, was in a head-on auto collision. It left her paralyzed from the waist down. Loved ones and friends were all praying for her healing, and naturally so. But I felt impressed to prepare her for life in a wheel-chair; “plan for the worse, hope for the best,” so to speak. As I told her, if God allows you walk again, well, we can easily fit that into your daily schedule. But confinement in a chair for the rest of one’s life will not be as simple!

Among Evangelical and Fundamental Christians, there is a popular teaching that the carnal Church of our day will not have to go through any coming sufferings. But what if we find out that “we are no better than our fathers,” that we, too, must experience our “Dark Ages” and “Treblinkas,” what then? As the old adage says, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Years ago I saw a picture that illustrates my point. It was an ox standing between a yoke and an altar. Under the picture was the caption, “Ready for either.” Are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Anchor Holds

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...” One definition of the word “anchor” in Webster’s Dictionary is: "a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay." This certainly describes the Lord Jesus, does it not? An anchor is the symbol of hope, and the Scriptures tell us Christ is our Hope. He does for the soul what an anchor does for a ship. Because our Anchor is both sure and steadfast, it enables us to outride the storms of life. No matter how severe the tempest, or wild the waves, or boisterous the winds, there is calm within the veil.

Therefore, our standing is unmovable;. but our state may present us entirely different. We may be tossed to and fro with the tempest, but, like a buoy in a storm that appears to be movable on the surface, unseen to the naked eye, it is both “sure and steadfast” underneath the tempestuous storm. Our flesh may be weak, but our faith is strong. John Bunyan wrote, “Hope is never ill when faith is well.”

Though the angry surges roll On my tempest-driven soul, I am peaceful, for I know, Wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, That can evermore endure.

Refrain: And it holds, my anchor holds: Blow your wildest, then, O gale, On my bark so small and frail; By His grace I shall not fail, For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friends to the End

"A friend loveth at all times." Being a friend is unconditional; having a friend is conditional. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." I want us to focus our attention on the former of these two. You can be a friend without necessarily having one. Jesus called Judas "friend."

When I was very young in the Faith, someone made the statement that when you're dying, if you can count your true friends on one hand , you can consider yourself blessed. At the time, I thought the statement was a little morbid, but, after living all these years and observing people, I am not as sure. I wonder if most of us do not mistake acquaintances for friends.

A true friend is one who knows all about us and still loves us. Henry Brooks Adams said, "Every man should have a fair sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends. Or, as another has put it, "When my friends are one-eyed, I look at their profile."

A friendship that can end never really began. (Publilius Syrus)

Friday, December 11, 2009

W.W.J.D. or W.W.J.S.

I’m not advocating the throwing away of your bracelet, necklace, etc.; but after this article, you may want to change the end letter “D,” to “S.” In my opinion it is not, “What would Jesus do?” but rather, “What would Jesus say?” I find most that practice the former go by their own imagination, instead of Divine Inspiration.

I seriously doubt if any Believer who saw Christian material being sold in the vestibule of their church for three or four times its actual price, would turn over the tables and drive out the culprits with a whip. That’s what Jesus would do; but what He would say is, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

Jesus did a lot of things we could not and should not do, but all that He said, we can safely follow. God said concerning His Son, “Hear ye Him.” When we’re told to “follow in His steps,” it’s speaking spiritually, not physically. Paul said of young Titus, “Walked we not in the same spirit? Walked we not in the same steps?”

We cannot do what God does, but we can all do what God says. And so next time we’re in a predicament, rather than asking, “What would Jesus do?” how about, “What would Jesus say?” We’d be surer, I believe, of getting out of our ruts, and also pleasing God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If any man…consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…he is proud, knowing nothing.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Acid Test

One of the meanings of this proverbial saying is: A test used to determine whether a metal is real gold or not. In the movie, The Untouchables, Elliott Ness, the crime fighter, played by Kevin Costner; and the beat cop, Malone, played by Sean Connery, are discussing how to get the gangster, Al Capone. There is a great line where Malone asks Ness, “What are you prepared to do?

I find there is no lack of sermons, writings, or dialogue today on the sad condition within Christendom. But that seems to be as far as it goes: sermons, writings, and talk. The truth is, these experts are no more than “Monday morning quarterbacks” (a person who, after the event, offers advice or criticism concerning decisions made by others; one who second-guesses). The real acid test is, “What are you prepared to do”?

Malone’s dying words to Ness are the same he asks when they embarked of their mission to get Capone, “What are you prepared to do.? My question to each who read this article is this: “What are you prepared to do”?

“Actions speak louder than words”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lists

We have various lists, for example, things to do list, grocery list, and of course, our traditional Christmas list. And usually we prioritize the things on them according to their importance, or by how pressing they are. Then we start checking each off from top to bottom, as they’re accomplished.

In our Christian life God tells His children to put His Son at the top of their list of desires, and then He promises He will add the other things. To reverse the order is to experience subtractions from your life rather than the additions promised. No believer ever got ahead by putting Him second.

Speaking of priorities C.S. Lewis writes, “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.” He goes on to say, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abandoned

To withdraw one's support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble. This is just one of the dictionary’s definitions of the word, “abandon.” Fortunate indeed is that individual who can go on with his or her life, after being forsaken by a person or persons dear to them.

It is a pitiful sight to see one clinging to someone who wants nothing to do with him or her. The words of a country song illustrate my point, "He was a man holding on to a woman letting go." Blessed is that man or woman who, when loved ones and friends have gone away, can walk away; leaving it to the past.

Jesus told His disciples that they would leave Him alone, and then added, “…yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” This is the secret of perennial victory in one’s life, during those times of abandonment: a God consciousness. After all, who could ever be lonely with a companion such as He?

A mother may forget her sucking child; a Demas may forsake us; all may desert us; “[But] He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Note: The above article is dedicated to my daughter Leah, who, many years ago, was deserted, along with her three little boys, but found Isaiah’s words to be true, “Thy Maker is thine husband.”

Friday, December 4, 2009

Global Warming

I am not a meteorologist, environmentalist, or biologist; but I do profess to be a 100% Biblist. And the Word of God tells me in no uncertain terms that as God destroyed His earth in the past by immersing it in water, He will demolish it in the future with a baptism of fire.

To those fickle followers of Christ who like to spiritualize the hard sayings of the Bible, I would remind you that the picture, good or bad, never does justice to the actual. Therefore, if the text is literal, it is going to be very, very bad. But if it is speaking figuratively, it’s going to be even worse than imagined. You choose.

As to the cause and effect of this devastation, the former is due to man’s continual sin against God. Concerning the latter, it’s the results of the Lord’s judgment upon mankind for his incessant rebellion. In the end-time Book of Revelation we’re told of the sun scorching men with great heat, so that they gnaw their tongues in pain and blaspheme the name God, refusing to repent.

But we are also told of a new earth that is awaiting those who bless that Worthy Name. Peter in his second epistle puts it this way, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

For you who have put all your stock in this present earth, I would remind you that your dividends of return will be ashes. I do not want to sound frivolous in making this statement to you who have put your roots deep in this present earth; but there is more truth than fiction in the old song, “There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spiritual Elitism

“When Isaac was old…his eyes were dim…so that he could not see.” To my knowledge Isaac is the only one of whom it is said, “he sowed in the land, and received…an hundredfold.” This son of Abraham was also a beautiful type of Christ in several particulars, one being His death and resurrection. Yet, this Christ-likeness did not exempt him from those infirmities that come with age. And no matter how godly you and I may be, neither will it us.

Many Christians possess a kind of unspoken philosophy, believing that if they live for God the physical maladies of this life will not come nigh them. But nothing is further from the truth. Being a member of the fallen Adamic race carries with it all the frailties associated therewith. As I’ve stated in numerous articles, “You cannot escape your humanity!”

There does not have to be a spiritual reason for everything that touches our physical lives. Some things are just a part of our pilgrimage here on earth; they come to all alike, in one form or another. There is no such thing as a “Spiritual Elite,” who are spared these dreaded woes. Hide behind a monastery wall, flee to a beautiful island, but you’ll find all the things you were running from beat you there, awaiting your arrival.

And so, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? Simple, we need to come down from our lofty cloud, lay aside our white robe, along with our halo and harp, and join the band of the commoners. When our Lord took upon Himself our form, He also took what went with it: weariness, hunger and thirst, pain and suffering. And you can be sure of this, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Accepting the fact that one is human answers a lot of our unanswered questions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So You Believe, Do You?

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” What a shock it must have been for those early believers, as it is for many today, to find out that the devil has faith. He is orthodox, in that he believes in the unity of God. He can stand alongside of many in churches and repeat their creed: “I believe in the one, true God.” If that’s all one has, then you cannot distinguish them from the devil. To be content with this kind of faith is to be condemned.

It is not a professing faith, but a faith that produces good works that God recognizes. If a person has only a faith without works, he is no better than the devil. The devils know there is one God, but there is no personal relationship with Him. “...what have we to do with thee...I know who thou art, the Holy One of God.” There are no atheists among the devil’s crowd. Those only exist among us mortals.

A mere intellectual assent is a vanity faith—it’s cosmetic. You can have an intellectual faith (the devils believe) and a faith that moves the emotions (they tremble), but only that faith that brings a change of life and good works, counts with God. It’s not talkin’ it that counts, but walkin’ it.

A naked profession of faith is no better than a verbal charity! (Thomas Manton)