Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 A.D.

Some incorrectly refer to the abbreviation A.D. as "After the Death." But actually, it is the abbreviation for Anno Domini, Latin for 'The Year of Our Lord.” And may I add, whatever the year, it will always be a great year when one submits to and accepts the lordship of Jesus Christ in his or her lives.

Peter, in his Pentecostal sermon tells us, “God hath made…Jesus...both Lord and Christ.” Often we hear it said that one needs to “make” Jesus Lord of his or her life. But this is not so; God has already made Him Lord; all that is left for us to do is to acknowledge and submit to this fact. But, if not, He’s still Lord! Man’s choice doesn’t change God’s Truth.

All creation obeys Him as Lord, that is, with one exception: mankind. Isaiah writes, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but [My people] doth not know.” Jesus says to those of His day, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” here we see the test of Lordship is doing what He says.

“Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Lordship is settled in Heaven. We need to settle it on earth.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Regrets

Anyone the least familiar with the life of Paul knows he had regrets concerning his past. Hauling both men and women off to filthy prisons, to be tortured, depriving their little ones of a mother and father; persecuting the “Little Flock,” for whom their Good Shepherd had shed His life’s blood; approving the stoning death of the first Christian martyr, Steven, with his angelic countenance branded into Paul’s conscience, never to be forgotten; and worse of all, the memory of his insane hatred for the One he now loved, served, adored, and worshiped.

But this stalwart Christian was not crippled by vain regrets. In other words, he did not let his past paralyze him. He was not a member of the morose crowd who are incessantly whining, “If I had only…” He knew he couldn’t recall the past. He knew he couldn’t gather up spilt milk, so he poured himself a fresh cup. He didn’t waste time praying about the past but got up and started doing something in the present. He did not worry about what he could not affect or change in the past. In Paul’s mind, it was wrong to mortgage the present with the past. He followed his Lord’s instructions, when He said, “Let the dead bury the dead.”

Satchel Paige, that great relief pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 40’s, had some great home-spun philosophies, one of which was, “Don’t look back; dey might be gainin’ on ya.” Paul would have said, “Amen” to that statement, for the Apostle had written over two thousand years ago, “Forgetting those which are behind.”

God can give us a crop in one year that makes up for ten. (Joel 2:25) M.L. Jones.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Think So, Huh?

“But Naaman was wroth…and said, Behold, I thought, he will surely…” God did not do things according to this man’s pre-existing ideas. And as a result, like the Irish say, he became “out of sorts.” His mistake is one we still make today. We fancy ourselves imagining how the Lord will pull off certain things for us in our lives.

When we have big expectations of the way God will do certain things, we are in danger of being miffed with God when He voids them. To have such a mindset is to set oneself up for a let down. Naaman said, “I thought,” but God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

A popular advertisement says, “Take the bus, and leave the driving to us.’ Let’s make our requests and leave all the details and intricacies to Him.

When we ask God to do something for us, it is well to remember, beggars can’t be choosers.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out

"Abram went down...Abram went up... [Abram] went on." The Christian life is not without its failures. For, as long as we are in this flesh, we will experience them from time to time, as our father Abraham did. The secret is being able to bounce back, so to speak. We are told in the New Testament we are to follow Abraham's example. If that be the case, when we go down, we are to come up and go on.

Throughout the Bible, we see this characteristic in the saints who endured. Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul—all illustrate that one can have a successful comeback after a severe set back. Complete recovery is always possible in a regenerated, repentant believer.

The greatest disgrace is not in getting knocked down, but in not getting up.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First in Line

Jesus said it is a wicked person who has been forgiven, but refuses to do the same for another. Each of us ought to be fighting for first place in line when it has to do with forgiving others. But most of us drop back to the end of the queue when we come face to face with forgiving ourselves. We’ll forgive others 490 times, but will not forgive ourselves once.

To be sure, a person who longs for, and cries out daily for our forgiveness, should be granted it. God freely forgives us, yet we deny that same person forgiveness. I like the way C.S. Lewis puts it: “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

There is nothing but misery where one party will not forgive the other. So, why not forgive yourself, start new, and cease from that miserable life you’re living? After all, you have probably forgiven others of much worse things.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes

Friday, December 24, 2010

Note to following article

After re-reading my article, "Inspecting the Lamb," I need to make a clarification. I am aware it was Pilate who actually uttered the words, "I find no fault in him." But Annas, the High Priest (Lk.3:2 cp. Acts 4:16), was the first to head Jesus toward his death, and like the O.T. priest, approved this Lamb to be slain, admitting unwittingly, unconsciously, and inaudibly that there was no fault in Him. But he did not actually say the words. Sorry for not making this clearer.

Richard

Inspecting “The Lamb”.

In Old Testament times, when an Israelite brought his sacrifice to the High Priest for inspection, he did not examine the offerer, but the offered. He checked the Lamb to see if it had any spots or blemishes, not the one who presented it. This, no doubt, is what Paul is referring to in Ephesians, where he pens, “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

You’ll remember when Jacob was about to meet his brother Esau, who had promised wrath upon this one who had wronged him years previous. And so Jacob, knowing he would soon face his elder brother, sent a gift ahead of him, hoping to satisfy Esau. For, said Jacob, “I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.”

When the High Priest inspected Jesus the night before His death, before He was placed upon the altar of sacrifice, the High priest, unknowingly, but officially, declared Him approved for sacrifice; for he said of this unblemished Lamb, “I find no fault in Him.” The book of Hebrews tells us, Jesus is our “forerunner,” that is, He went on ahead to present Himself to God on our behalf. And we never have to fear seeing God’s face, for “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” GLORY! GLORY! GLORY! What a God!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Logical Explanation

“And the Jews marvelled, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Is there anything in your life that cannot be explained apart from God? If not, pray tell me, how then can we profess to be followers of the Lord? Paul certainly exemplified this fact in his own life and ministry: “They glorified God in me.” The world’s testimony when beholding God’s elect should be, “God is in them, of a truth.” Anything short of this will never convince the Christ-less.

If, when being discussed among the natural and carnal, our lives and gifts can be logically and reasonably explained, then the blinders will remain upon their eyes. The thing that reconciled those in Bible times unto God, says the Apostle, was the fact, they saw “God in Christ.” And now, He has committed this ministry unto us. People of our day are to see “Christ in us,” (2 Cor.5:18-20).

Characteristic words of our unexplainable Lord and His children are: amazed, marvelled, wondered, astonied, speechless. Do any of these descriptive terms depict us? It is written of those early believers, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” I’d like for people to say of me, “He has been with Jesus.” Wouldn’t you?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

“Indian-giver”

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” I must admit to taking back things after I have given them to the Lord. And, like Moses’ rod, the supernatural turns back into the natural when I again put my hands to it. It’s possible to begin right, but end wrong.

How I am tempted to put my finishing touches to the canvass after God completes His picture. I ruin everything when I do this. There is no trouble as long as it seems impossible. It is when God is coming to the end of His work that it seems plausible for me to pick up a brush to dab my dull colors in His bright artistry. We amateurs need to stay out of the Professional’s way.

Every time I put my “two-cent’s-worth” to God’s work, I cheapen it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Old Watering Hole

As crude as it may sound to some of the “elitists,” nevertheless, the local church, if nothing else, is a watering hole for God’s thirsty sheep. Far too many of God’s lambs, in their desert journey, are leaving their designated wells with parched lips. Water is a necessity for life, physical or Spiritual, and without it we die!

But if, perchance, in some cases there is some water, a host of the shepherds are offering it to goats, which they have made their first priority. But the Great Shepherd said, “Let the children first be filled.” I’ve seen water being dipped out to those who may or may not become sheep, while the real sheep find the bucket empty when it gets to them.

Isaac was a well-digger. What a thrill it must have been passing through that barren land when his servants said to him, “We have found water.” And what a joy it is to hear a saint say of his or her local church, “I have found water!” May every pastor's testimony toward his flock be, "Their soul shall be as a watered garden."

“Sabbath-days are well-days in the desert journey, days when we fill the waterskins, to journey on to another well.”
(Andrew A. Bonar)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Always the Same

“Jesus Christ the same…to day” Jesus Christ is absolutely without change. He is not only without change, but utterly without even the possibility of change. His very name, Jehovah, “I Am That I Am,” gives credence to His unchangeableness; immutability, say the theologians. We change, things change, but never Jesus Christ!

We hear the old adage, “Things (and people) aren’t the way they used to be.” True, but not so with the Changeless Christ. His character, His very essence, is everlastingly unchangeable, though His dealings with individuals and situations are. As Andrew A. Bonar put it, “He has changed me, but He has never changed Himself.”

As precious as His sameness is to “yesterday” (history), and in the “forever” (prophecy), it does not help me much unless a “to day” (present) is inserted. And the Blessed Holy Spirit knew this, so there it is, right in the middle of the text. He is the same in this nuclear, computerized, modern age. And I am His and He is mine!

“Change and decay in all around I see,
Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mad Math

I remember as a boy in school, my teacher emphasizing the importance of carrying over in problems of addition. Well, that may work in math, but you’ll go mad trying it in life. Dragging the past over into the present only creates a bigger problem. It never solves it; it only adds to it. As C.S. Lewis says, “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”

I think George MacDonald got it right when he wrote, “The next hour, the next moment, is as much beyond our grasp and as much in God’s care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for the morrow, or for a day in the next thousand years-in neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything.”

In these, my latter years, I’m learning that the Christian life is basically a moment by moment trust in the Lord. God, speaking through His prophet Isaiah, and likening His people to a vineyard says, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.”

A Distant Devil

“The devil is gone out of thy daughter.” And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, [of] her daughter...” One aspect of this mother’s great faith was that she believed Jesus could deal with the devil at a distance. Geography does not limit our Omni-present God in His power over Satan. Miles do not matter to the Master.

If this be true, why have Christian parents ceased to pray and claim their children who have been taken captive by the devil in distant places? Is it because we have a sense of personal unworthiness? If so, we need to realize the fact that the woman in our story felt she was unworthy. But, to her amazement, she found this was the very thing that gave power to her parental plea. If we humble ourselves to eat the crumbs from the Lord’s Table, we may just free our children from the dainties of the devils.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

*Answer “Him” Please!

"Have ye not read…at the beginning? Have ye not read in the book of Moses? Or have ye not read in the law? “Have ye not read what David did?” And have ye not read this scripture? Have ye not read so much as this? Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God?
Well, have you? Have you started at the beginning? Have you read Moses writings? Have you read anything of the Law? Have you not read anything of darling David’s experiences? Have you read any particular scriptures? Have you not even read a little? Have you not ever read what God wrote to you? These questions must be answered. And mind you, these inquiries were made to religious people, not to down and out sinners.

In my reading recently I came across this interesting statistic. The Bible can be read, at a speaking speed, in approximately eighty hours. This means it takes no more than thirteen minutes per day to read through the entire Bible in one year.

God’s Book is as relevant today as it was when spoken. For example, “Have ye not read what David did?” I believe our Lord is giving us three vital truths in this text. First, read the Old Testament. Second, He said they could apply it to their generation. And thirdly, Biblical principles are always in vogue; you need not dissect principle.

“The two testaments are the two lips by which God hath spoken to us.” (Thomas Watson)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Take His Arm

“Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Only a man can know that special feeling when his spouse takes his arm. To be sure, it shows her reliance upon him for support and confidence in him as her guide. But it also manifests something much deeper. It reveals a familiarity with him and her fervent affection toward him, while, at the same time, displaying before all her true femininity. This man is the love of her life.

How much more should this be true of the Lover of our souls and us! Not only should we lean upon that everlasting Arm as the weaker vessel in total dependence upon Him, but we should cling to our Beloved, lovingly, adoringly, and with all the affection and adoration of our beings. As we walk down the aisle of life, holding on to our Beloved’s arm, all those who observe should hear our refrain, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”

Love doesn’t know how to let go.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Giant Step Toward God

“Humble yourselves...” It’s something we can do. Jesus did. The book of Chronicles tells us that humility is the first step toward God. Humility is not thinking little of ourselves; it’s not thinking of ourselves at all. As Bernard said, “Humility is self-annihilation.”

You can’t be God-conscious and self-conscious at the same time. Once we see our horrible, haughty hearts, we are the last person we want to think of. A humble person prefers to be a non-entity. True humility blends with the common. In the garden, they did not know Jesus from His disciples.

Beware of those who display a false humility. This type has a wardrobe full of garments that have a “show of humility” when worn. It’s not the external appearance before man but an internal attitude before God that manifests genuine humility. And God knows the difference, even if others do not. C.S. Lewis says, “A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility.”


God promises to exalt the humble, but a truly humble person begs Him not to.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When the Kingdom Comes

The Old Testament priest was first and foremost a go-between. He was an intermediary, the middle man, an intercessor if you please. But he, like all others of his kind, had an infirmity that kept him from unbroken intercession; he had to sleep. Isn’t it wonderful that we now have a High Priest that neither sleeps nor slumbers?

The priests’ of old carried the names of God’s people upon their shoulders (strength); and upon their breast (affection). But unlike the Aaronic priesthood, our Lord remains in God’s presence continually. Therefore, day or night we can be assured He is standing in the gap for us. He is our heavenly representative to God, pleading on our behalf. And what a comfort to know the Father always grants His risen Son His desire.

Now we understand why Jesus told the disciples that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it new with them in the Kingdom. The Old Testament priest could not drink wine while he was ministering in the priest’s office, but could afterward. Our Lord is saying His intercessory work is to continue throughout this age, unbroken and undisturbed. But after His work is accomplished, we will all sit with Him at His heavenly table, and sip from His eternal cup, filled with everlasting joy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Experiences

One of Webster’s definitions for the word experience is, “the act of living through an event.” I emphasize the words “through” and “event.” An experience is not life; it is only a part of the whole. Experience is just that, an experience. You were never meant to dwell there, but to go on. God says to us what He said to Israel at Mt. Seir, “Ye have compassed this mountain long enough…” Or as the writer of Hebrews admonishes, “Therefore leaving…let us go on unto…” Paul tells us to forget the past (good or bad experiences), and press on from there. In our modern vernacular we’d say, “You need to move on with your life.”

It seems many have nothing to talk about except past experiences. Their entire life centers on some long ago hurt or victory. These types never accomplish anything constructive in the present. You can’t spend your time nourishing past experiences and expect to keep the present healthy and lively. If you’re not living in the now, then you’re a ghost from the past, attempting to resurrect something that ought to have been laid at rest. For goodness’ sake, whatever it was, let it lie in peace! I’m afraid too many of us are like Jacob, who allowed one bad experience (Joseph), to flavor the rest of his life and decisions.

I think with some Christians, that their experience is dearer to them than the Lord Himself. It might be wise for of us to remind ourselves that He is to be Lord of our experiences. Any experience not related to Him, is unproductive, and unprofitable, to say the very least. You’ll never learn anything from those types of experiences. Let’s cease embalming our experiences, and allow the Spirit of God to breathe new life into the present.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man...open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him...” So says our Lord through John the Revelator. The missionary, David Livingstone said, “Jesus Christ is a Gentleman; He will not enter where He is not invited.”

Men and women who have had a real relationship, and sweet fellowship, with God, are those who have opened wide the doors of their lives to let this Divine Tenant in. Our text is not speaking to the unregenerate, but to His own—those He loves. We can understand the former shutting Him out of their lives, but not the latter.

There is only one doorknob, and it is on our side of the door. Therefore, if He is to gain entrance, it must be opened by us. Whenever this door of self-will is thrown open, He enters and sups with us. So it was with Abraham; it was so, also, with his disciples; and so it will be with us.

What’s so wonderful about Him coming to dinner?—the fact that He brings His own “groceries.” He fills our barren tables with an abundance of Heavenly supplies, such as grace, mercy, and peace, etc. Our testimony, after we have dined with Him is, “He satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

Some prefer to have dinner with the devil; I choose to dine with Deity

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Strength of the Lord

Whenever I feel I do not have the strength to go on, invariably I find it’s because I’m attempting to go under my own steam. My problem is not my weakness, but my natural strength. The latter is not an asset, but a liability. It hinders me; it does not help me. Our trouble is not that we are too weak, but too strong. King Uzziah was marvelously helped till he was strong. Jacob became a prince, having the power of God, once his own strength had withered. God tells us His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Paul found it to be so. He writes, “…when I am weak, then am I strong.”

The heroes of Hebrews, we are told, “…out of weakness were made strong.” Those little shrimps became whales in their weakness. Those who are giant-killers testify, “The Lord is the strength of my life.” It is not our strength we are to offer to the Lord, but our weakness. It is then God takes the non-entity and infuses him with divine power. And be not mistaken, whoever He infuses, He uses!

If we would only confess our inadequacy, and abandon our reliance upon our natural abilities and resources, then would come to pass, “…the lame take the prey.” But this will not happen until we are content to be nothing, and let Him be everything.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Opposites Attract

“And they twain shall be one…” From the very beginning God has united opposites. But in making them one He did not take away their distinctiveness. Each retains his or her individuality and function.

God does things in twos. Two witnesses establish the truth. The dream was shown Pharaoh twice so that he would know it was of God, Jesus sent the disciples two by two, etc. It takes two wings to fly; you will never get off the ground with one. “Ask now…the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.”

This is also true of us if we emphasize only one side of twin truths. For example: faith and works, sovereignty and free will, secular and sacred. Each of these are completely opposite from the other. But, nonetheless, God has joined them together, and what God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

The devil’s desire is to keep us off balance with an imbalanced life. Every scale has two balances. Don’t put all your credence on just one (Prov.11:1).

A train has two tracks, take away one and it’s disastrous!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Temperament or Truth

“Watch your temper,” we were warned from childhood. But newborn Christians, even mature ones, need to be reminded, “Watch your temperament.” That is, our natural disposition we inherited at conception. Being saved does not change one’s temperament, though it can be improved drastically by the Spirit’s control in our lives.

When the Bible states that when one becomes a Christian, “…all things are become new,” it does not mean things have changed, but that we have changed, and as a result look at everything differently. Sin is still sin, and godliness is still godliness. Neither has changed. But now we see them through a different light.

We must be careful not to read the Scriptures “through our own specs,” but make every effort to see them through God’s glasses, so to speak. For example, an outgoing sanguine can justify his or her external gleefulness, and lack of seriousness, by saying it’s the joy of the Lord. On the other hand, the serious minded melancholy points to texts on soberness to vindicate his lack of Biblical cheerfulness.

I think it was one of the old philosophers who came up with the idea of four temperaments. I personally do not know about that. But I do know each of us fall into a limited list of categories that make us distinctively different from the others. I was asked once if there are four temperaments, which did Jesus, have. My answer was, since He was representative man, all four. Therefore He knows each of us and our personal needs. Our individual temperaments were given to us by God, and when He is in control of them, we are no longer a burden to ourselves or others. It is then we become a blessing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Twofold “Must” of Faith

“But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

There is more to Biblical faith than believing in the existence of God. The devils believe that. We must not only believe that “God is,” that is, He is all He says He is. But we must also believe He is a prayer-answering God. This is the second wing that gets our text off the ground, and soaring into Heaven to the throne of God.

Once God's existence is believed in, of necessity, we must expect Him to hear and answer our prayers. God's recompense for true faith is always a reward. Each of the twenty-two or so names found in God's hall of faith, in Hebrews eleven, received some sort of token from God for his or her faith.

But, whatever the remuneration, it doesn't hold a candle to the reward of God Himself. For our God has said to all those with legitimate faith, "I am thy…exceeding great reward." Orphans enjoy gifts, but would gladly give them all up for a father.

To have Christ is everything; and everything is nothing without Him.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Does God Still Speak?

The song says, “And He walks with me; and He talks with me; and He tells me I am His own.” Does God still speak to us? My answer is a definite “Yes!” But, along with this statement, I make one important stipulation: any and all means must be tested by the Word. If there is a conflict, the latter cancels out the former.

God can, and does, speak to His people on various occasions by, for example, outward providences and/or inward impressions. But often our humanity hinders us from discerning His voice. We are emotional creatures and are prone to go by our feelings; but, when we do, we fall into emotional quicksand. Thus, falling from our pinnacle of expectations, it is easy to mistake emotional impressions for Divine illumination.

Once we garble God’s message to us because of our human limitations, we are apt to prefer complete silence rather than the risk of hearing from Him again. We feel the experiences are too embarrassing and painful, thus we turn a deaf ear to God.

We need to be like little Samuel of old and keep coming back. He believed, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” To save ourselves from disappointment and embarrassment, it is good to follow Mary’s example, whenever we sense the Lord speaking to us: “[And] Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Let us wait and watch how God fulfills what He tells us (Ruth 3:18).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Poor Substitutes

I am not necessarily opposed to family councilors, Alcoholic Anonymous, psychiatry, and a host of other things used as legitimate means to get people back on their moral feet. I’d be inconsistent if I were, for I believe medicines can be used to cure physical ills. What I am against is total dependence on the means, even to the extent of glorying in them.

Everything good comes from God; therefore, whether it is Divine healing, or the use of means, behind it all is God. Whatever or whoever is used to get the job done, God, and God alone is to get all the glory, not individuals or institutions. To be grateful for them is one thing, to glory in them is another. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” “My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise…”

I’ve often wondered why it is today we do not hear more of instant and permanent deliverance in Christian’s lives. Such as drunkards, druggies, perverts, demon possessed, and such like. Have we limited the Holy One? Do we no longer believe He came to set the captive free? That nothing is too hard for God? Have we become so familiar with Him like His home townsmen that it can be said of us also, “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief?”

It may not be your fault if you’re physically handicapped, but you have no one to blame if you are a Spiritual cripple.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the Infinite

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” How beautiful common things become when linked to Jesus. This is one of the great secrets of the Christian life. A dreary, clouded day can be transformed, when the "Son" shines though.

Sadness is turned to joy in His presence. John’s loneliness flees when he becomes conscious of his Companion on Patmos. Fear turns to courage when we can say, “The Lord is with me.” Everything, and everyone, looks different when we see them through His eyes. The true value of the mundane things in life is never realized until they are set in the light of the Lord. It is then we see the real worth of the menial. He lights up all our common lamps.

One of Paul’s favorite terms is, “in Christ.” That little preposition “in” shows we have entered into the Infinite. We are now in the kingdom of everything that endures.

MY PRAYER
Father, help me realize today that all that makes life worth living is in Jesus, that He is the summation of all things, and, apart from Him, every day is a cloudy day. But, in Him, all darkness is dispelled. May all my daily duties be done unto Him. Only then will drudgery be turned into delight. Amen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Forge is to Forget

How thankful I will always be for a dear Christian lady who helped me when I was a babe in Christ. I was troubled with my past, trying frantically to deal with it, but all to no avail. After I explained to her the regrets that lay behind me, she simply opened her Bible and had me read Philippians 3:13, “...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” This, she said, was the secret of Paul’s perennial success as a Christian and it would work for me also, she confidently affirmed.

That was over almost fifty years ago, and I can give testimony to the fact that it really does work. I could never have made it this far had I tried to drag the ball-and-chain of my yesterdays along with me on my journey to Bunyan’s Celestial City.

There is no forging ahead without forgetting the past. May God help us to forget and to leave behind all of life’s failures, sins, heartaches, and shattered dreams. We must bury them daily and make sure to throw away the shovel, so that we cannot dig them up again.

We must decide, each day, whether we want history or future.

A Legible Prescription

“…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” The great Physician left His patients a personal prescription when facing pain. And this prescription He legibly wrote out in His Word: We are to look past pain. His example was to keep one’s eyes on the joy of the afterward, not the pain of the present.

When the soul is sorrowful, the spirit in agony, and the body wracked with pain, faith in a future joy enables us to endure the unpleasantness of life’s discomforts. I cannot help but believe this is what kept Job going. In the midst of all his sufferings, he knew there was a future day in which he would see God. What a joy to anticipate

Who cares about a long night, if an eternal day awaits.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Openhanded

The dictionary’s definition of “openhanded” is simply, generous. God’s command to His people concerning a brother in need is, “Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brother, to the poor, and to thy needy…Thou shalt furnish him liberally…of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.” God gives to us that we may give to those less fortunate. Those whom He has blessed richly are even more responsible. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” And, “Woe unto them that…turn aside the needy… [and] the poor of my people.”

David tells us, “…open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” But I think, if we are not willing to open our hand wide to our brother, we should close our big mouth to God. :>) The wise man tells us, “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” If we refuse to hear them, God will refuse to hear us.

A little poor boy was setting on a curb singing, “Jesus loves me.” A man passing by asked why, if Jesus loved him so much, He didn’t tell one of His people to buy him a new pair of shoes? The little urchin’s reply was, “Oh, He told somebody, Mister, but they just didn’t obey Him.” May God help us all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Serenity or Agony

The first line in the famous Prayer of Serenity says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” If we are not careful some of us will spend our lives trying to change the unchangeable, and neglect those things we can change.

We do not have the power to change circumstances and people. But we can alter things in our own lives. I observed our children when small (hopefully not now), trying frustratingly to fit a square block into a round hole. It goes without saying, they never succeeded. Nor can any of us in trying to change the changeless. It would be like attempting to change a leopard’s spots or an Ethiopian’s skin. Such things are humanly impossible.

If the unchangeable is to ever be changed, it will have to be God who changes it, if it’s to be changed at all. It will most certainly not be accomplished by us! There is agony of soul for all who endeavor to do what only God can do. But there is sweet serenity when I let God be God, and me be me.

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
~W.H. Auden

Sunday, November 21, 2010

*Leaving a Legacy

“I have been young, and now am old...” This is the Psalm of the old man. It is manna to the soul of the one who reads it and heeds it. David has passed through life. He has had the opportunity to observe and experience. The years of excitement and fears of youth have long passed, along with the challenges and temptations of midlife. “I am now old.” I’m standing on shore and realize that in the near future I will be leaving behind loved ones, friends, and a new generation.

There is something sad when a man must say, “I have been young.” The mature strength of manhood is no more. All the wishful hopes and plans of that young life are gone forever, along with its fanciful fantasies. Yet there is a rewarding compensation in the latter years. The old man has been where the youths are; but they have never been where David is now. He has a wealth of wisdom to bequeath to them if they will only lend an ear and absorb what the old man has to say.

The greatest legacy a man can leave is one that helps the next generation onto God.

A TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND

On Nov.17th my good friend, Rev. Bill Riddick of Ocean Springs, Ms., went to be with the Lord.

Bill Riddick was my friend in the true Biblical sense of the word. You will not find many men today with the caliber of character he possessed. As the western writer, Louis L'Amour, describes a man you can depend on, "He is one you can ride the river with." Bill was such a man. I'm saddened for young men who will no longer have such manliness as Bill's to emulate. May God in his mercy raise up some young Bill Riddicks! America is in desperate need of them.

Richard D. Sandlin
San Andreas, CA.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lord of the Leftovers

“He said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” Not only did our Lord do this with the loaves, but more importantly, He does it with lives. Many a man and woman, looking back, regret the fact that they missed being in on the main course of God’s Will. They now feel it too late for them. Don’t! He’s the God of the leftovers.

There is no need to be discouraged; Jesus Christ can take up a fragmented life, as He did the loaves, and use it to feed the hungry. All that is required is that one recognizes and submits to His Lordship. As someone has said,” It is never too late to make Him Lord.” The thief on the cross had only hours left to live, but he didn’t waste them. Before all to see and hear, he took Christ as his Lord.

If you have squandered most of your life away, why not allow Him to be Lord of what’s left?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

*My Race/My Pace

Recently I heard a man say, speaking of a marathon he had run in, if you’re to finish the race, you can’t look at the other runners, attempting to keep up with them. Your attitude must be, to use his words, “My race, my pace.”

Peter and John ran together to Christ’s tomb; and John outran Peter. But both enjoyed the evidence of His Resurrection by beholding its emptiness; the latter by looking in and the former by going in. In the Christian race of life, it is not competition, but completion. That’s the issue.

In a long-distance race, a young man stumbled and fell at the halfway mark, leaving him far behind the pack. At the completion of the race, as the crowd was dispersing, a cry was heard: “Look!” To all’s amazement, one lone runner was still on the field, giving it his all. People spontaneously began to shout, cheering him on as he crossed the finish line.

I don’t mind finishing the race last, if my Father’s there to greet me at the finish line with, “Well done, son!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Physical Weakness/Spiritual Power

“Afterward...the tempter came to him...” Victory over the devil does not depend on physical fitness. The Romans of Jesus’ day were as fit as a fiddle, but not one of their gladiators ever won a battle in the arena with the devil. In the temptation of Christ, we see how Satan comes to Him at his weakest moment. When we are at our weakest, you can be sure the devil will be at his wickedest. He loves to kick a man while he’s down.

This was not only true in Jesus’ life but also in Job’s, Paul’s, and Elijah’s. Wounded warriors and servants, sapped of their strength, are his favorite prey. He gives no quarter to us, and we should give none to him. He does not know the meaning of compassion, pity, or mercy. Therefore, don’t look for or expect it from him.

A satanic messenger was sent to buffet Paul daily, at each sunrise; but this messenger was surprised to find God’s power in this little man’s weakness. The demoniac mailman found that being a weak man does not mean a man is a weakling. Each day, when this suffering saint opened his eyes, new beatings were awaiting him. But on each of these days, the devil’s emissary found a weak man, full of grace, strength, and the power of God. And, wonder of all wonders, in spite of everything, glorying in his infirmities! For this joyful Jew had found that when he was weak, then was he strong.

A boxing glove is a weak thing until the champion puts his hand into it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Taking Off Our Shades

It’s been said, the world’s greatest physician is optimism. All of us have two choices in the way we look at things. It’s like the little poem says, “Two women behind prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars.” We’re told there is always time to look at the dark side. But I’ve observed such a time never comes to those who have removed their tinted glasses and looked at the bright side.

I’ve noticed through the years that things always go better for an optimist, no matter what the circumstances. Certainly, there are necessary negatives in the Bible and life. But they are few in comparison to all the positive promises. Let’s face it; the Word of God is an eternally optimistic Book. And so should we be, if we profess to believe it (2 Cor.1:20).

No Christian who believes Romans 8:28 can remain a pessimist.

Friday, November 5, 2010

*Hindsight Faith

"Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (John 13:19;14:29). This is particularly true of prophecy. Many passages of Scripture that promise and foretell our Lord’s return have a certain element of obscurity connected with them. Our text certainly teaches that the interpretation of some prophecies will only be understood after their fulfillment. Only then will we grasp their significance. You might say, belief after the fact.

May this truth humble and deliver us from prophetic dogmatism. The fact of His coming ought to be our first and foremost concern. Good and godly men throughout Church history have differed on the minor aspects of prophecy. Prophetic interpretation should never be a basis of fellowship. Only the fact that He is coming a second time should be. Because of many prophetic students’ dogmatism, they have lost the blessedness of the “blessed hope.”
The early Church didn’t debate the Second Coming; they looked for it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

*Personal Attention

Writing to the Corinthian Christians, Paul tells them that God had comforted him in all his troubles so that he might comfort others with the comfort wherewith God comforted him. Herein lies a tremendous truth, which is, God deals with some directly and others in an indirect way. God comes to certain ones who are hurting, pours in the oil of healing, then bids them go and do likewise.

Many of us make the mistake Naaman made. He thought Elisha would deal with him personally; but, instead, he sent another in his place. Because of this, at first, he mistakenly turned away from the provided means wherein lay his help. When God sends His personal emissary to us, it does not mean He is any less concerned or involved in our personal lives.

Jesus said whoever received the one He sent to them received Him. Let us be careful that we do not turn away God’s chosen and end up comfortless.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Will of God Is Always…

Someone said, “The Will of God is always bigger than we bargained for.” This is true in more ways than one; for God’s will, to the surprise of many, affects not just us, but others. As Oswald Chambers writes, “If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us.” We cannot prevent the suffering of others if we are going to do God’s Will. To attempt to relieve their grief will only grieve the Lord. Allow Him to deal with all the consequences resulting in our obeying Him.

When the wise men followed God’s plan for their lives, the result was that untold numbers of children, under the age of two, were killed by Herod. How do you suppose the parents, grandparents, and siblings of those little ones felt toward the three men’s brand of Christianity? And what about James and John who left their old father sitting in a boat, leaving him alone with a business he had built-up for his sons to take? The two had left all to follow the Galilean, of whom there was such controversy that people were divided everywhere He went.

In the movie entitled, The Untouchables, there is a great scene that illustrates my point. Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, wants to bring down Al Capone. He asks a regular cop on the beat named Malone, played by Sean Connery, how to do this. to which the seasoned cop answers by asking the question, “What are you prepared to do?” “Are you willing to go all the way?” What about us, what is our answer?

God’s Will is about God, not about us and others!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Preacher

He was in his early twenties, a Korean vet, and had spent the last four years after his discharge going from bad to worse. He was now standing in church, with head bowed and eyes closed. It was the invitation. His newly- converted mother had prayed him home from California and talked him into attending a revival meeting at her church. It was the first time he had been in a Gospel church or heard the plan of salvation. All of a sudden, with his heart beating a mile a minute, he felt a hand placed over his, as he tightly held to the back of the pew in front of him. When he looked up, he saw a red-headed man, with a face just as red, from weeping. This man had stepped past the people in the next pew, until he was facing the young man. As he patted the back of the hand of this young sinner who was under conviction, he said, with tears flowing down his cheeks, “Son, don’t you want to be saved?” This was the first time I ever saw or met Howard Sears. The man, who for the last fifty-three years I have affectionately referred to as “My Preacher.”

He was my mentor, my friend, and my spiritual father. He stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, answering Bible questions for me. He was a friend who stuck closer than a brother and forgave me, as a father, for all the foolishness that characterizes a young convert and “preacher boy.” Not only was I saved under his ministry, but I met my lovely wife, and was called to preach under it.

I’ve had the advantage of knowing the “red-head,” before the snows of winter fell upon his head. At all four seasons of his life, I testify before God, unlike the weather, he was unchanging. What you saw is what you got. And what I saw, I always liked.

Descriptive words that come to mind when I think of Howard Sears are: compassionate, loyal, patient, forgiving, kind, and caring. But in my mind, his everlasting legacy will be, “He was a good man and filled with the Holy Ghost.” How rich a man I have been for having known this gentle giant! I will miss him terribly.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Perfect: Only in Christ

"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect…” Paul would not have fit in with the mysticism and perfectionism groups of our day. The great Bible teacher, Harry Ironside, had a nervous breakdown trying to attain a state of Spiritual perfection. And the gifted Canadian scholar, J.I. Packer, testifies that he came close to the same experience in his early Christian life. People have gone insane trying to achieve the unachievable. Working toward a goal and reaching it are two entirely different things. Complete perfection is achieved only in Heaven.

There is a mild teaching of this doctrine found in both Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism today. You will find flavors of it in their preaching, writings, and testimonies. It characterizes itself by centering on the individual. There is a constant introspection which never allows them to ever have a sweet relationship with God. And yet the advocates of this teaching would have you to believe that this is what it is all about. They seem to always display a miserable and sad spirit. And who wouldn’t, scraping your insides constantly for any and all defects?

God accepts and blesses us where we are during any particular time in our Christian life. He knows our emotional, moral, physical, and spiritual state. God looks at the whole of a person; He does not look for isolated blemishes. Hebrews eleven proves this out. The people listed there all had their shortcomings and sins of the flesh. Of Abraham, for example, the New Testament says, “He staggered not at the promise of God…” but as you read the Old Testament account of this, you find he staggered like a drunken man. We find from this that it is possible for a saint to have a strong faith, but a weak flesh.

Until we are realistic about ourselves we will never lose our spirit of Phariseeism.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Thing at Hand

I read the little quip many quote, “Jack of all trades; master of none.” But originally, I understand, it was, “Jack of all trades; master of one.” Though I am sure the former is true in some lives. Paul said, “…this one thing I do…” Not that it was the only thing he did, but at that time, all other things were subservient to the one thing. It’s the same principle as when Jesus remarked to Martha that “…one thing is needful.” That was, at that particular moment. I doubt many of us can do two things well at the same time. Usually you will sacrifice one for the other.

It can be dangerous in certain situations to try and attempt two things in unison. Crossing a busy intersection, no one would argue, you can chew gum and walk at the same time. But I would strongly advise keeping your mind on the latter! I asked an old Irish evangelist once if a person could have more than one gift. His reply was in the affirmative. But he added; only one will be functional at a time. For example, you don’t preach and play the piano at the same time. If you do, one gift will suffer, and so will the people listening.

Let us give our complete attention to what’s at hand. Whether it be playing with our children, studying, fellowship, work, etc. Any butcher knows this truth. Some have sacrificed their fingers, because they didn’t pay attention to that which was at hand. May God help us not to lose something precious because we did not give it proper attention.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

*His Eminence

“That in all things he might have the preeminence.” At the heading of each book in my Bible, I have put a brief definition of what I believe that particular book’s overall teaching is. In the book of Colossians I have written “Christ, the Colossus of Colossians.” Some of the meanings of the word “colossus” are, “extra-ordinarily great; gigantic; huge; very powerful.” These are certainly good descriptive terms for our blessed Lord.

I heard an old preacher say once, “Jesus is the only Person you can brag on and never be guilty of over exaggeration.” You can always tell what kind of church you’re in by the place they give Jesus. There is an interesting text in Job that says, “How little a portion is heard of him.” In the Church, He is to be the center of our preaching, teaching, singing, testimonies, fellowship, praying, giving, and all business transactions. He is to tower over everything and everyone else.

I am fearful that too many ministers and people have the stamp of Diotrephes upon their foreheads (lll Jno.9).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

*Our Only Hope

One of our modern-day sayings that really annoys me is, “Well, all we can do now is pray.” This may sound spiritual to the carnal hearer, but any Spirit-filled believer realizes immediately they’re listening to someone who knows little or nothing of God.

Prayer is not the last thing on the agenda, it’s first and foremost. Prayer is always to be our top priority, without exception.

Our problem in times of crises is attempting to find help horizontally, but the scriptures tell us, “Vain is the help of man.” Our only hope is to be found vertically. David knew this: “My help commeth from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” And so you can see the cause of our dilemma is a directional one.

We came into this world in a fetal position, and leave it in a fetal position. You would think we’d take the hint!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Condemned For Continuing

“And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Carnal Christians love to quote the first part of this text to justify their lax life-style. It’s amazing how sinning saints can become so Bible oriented when attempting to vindicate themselves. When the devil quoted scripture to Jesus on the mount he left out an important portion. So it is not difficult to see where these types of people get such an idea.

Paul had to deal with this kind of heresy in his day also. There were those who wanted to be saved by grace, but continue in sin. The apostle’s reply to such was, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Certainly, as long as we have the old Adamic nature we will not be free form sin, but neither are we free to sin. Like the old time preacher used to say, “A sheep may fall into a mud hole, but it’s not his nature to stay there; on the other hand, the old sow will wallow in it.”

After forgiving the immoral woman Jesus told her that in the future her previous life style was to cease. It’s a serious thing to continue in sin once forgiven. Remember Jesus words to the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”

“No man is condemned for anything he has done: he is condemned for continuing to do wrong. He is condemned for not coming out of the darkness, for not coming to the light.” (George McDonald)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

*Blessed by a Billboard

Years ago, as a young Evangelist, my wife and I were traveling to a revival meeting. As we came upon a giant-like billboard, I said to her, “There is the secret to the Christian life! In large, colorful letters was just one word, “Available.”

It is possible to be so busy “serving Him,” that one is not “available” to Him. As the prophet of old, we too must confess, “Thy servant was busy here and there.” We should never be so taken up with our “Daily Duties,” we would not welcome a “Divine Interruption.”

Philip, was in the midst of a Spiritual atmosphere where the blessings of God were being poured out abundantly. Yet, when the Lord asked him to suspend his activities, he obeyed immediately. And for what purpose: an obscure, behind the scene task, which few would have chosen. But there was one who was glad Philip made himself available.
God considers availability greater than ability!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Shining Countenance

“...your Father...in heaven...maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” There is no preferential treatment when God’s good sun shines. And there should be none in the Christian’s life. The saint’s shining countenance should fall upon both the just and the unjust. Too often we have a smile for the one but a frown for the other. Our shining countenance is not only for those who bless, but for those who blaspheme. If not, “...what do ye more than others?”

When we are told that Jesus’ “...face did shine as the sun,” Paul tells us it was “...the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And so it is with us. When Moses blessed the people of God he said, “The Lord make his face to shine upon thee.” We are but reflections of God, and that brightness is not just reserved for the lovely, but the unlovely also.

A happy smile goes a long way in melting a hard heart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Knowing is Believing

I can believe you have a father without ever knowing him. Knowing him would be prerequisite to an intimate, personal relationship. To pride oneself in telling others, that you believe in God, is really not that impressive, “…the devils also believe and tremble.” It could be asked, “What doest thou more than these?”

The Apostle John wrote extensively about belief. But when he qualifies true Biblical belief he writes, “…we have known and believed…” Paul said, “I know whom I have believed.” That is, he had a personal knowledge of the “whom” he believed in. To believe in a God you do not know is fantasy; to believe in a God you do know, is true faith.

George McDonald writes, “To say Thou art God, without knowing what the Thou means- of what use is it?” God is a name only, except we know God. Is it any wonder then that David impressed upon Solomon, “…my son, know thou the God of thy father.”

You will never know the God of the Bible apart from Jesus Christ! (Matt.11:27,b)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Charity Begins at Home

I like little quips such as the above title. I think another good one would be Faith Begins Within. God’s way is to work from the inside out. It seems to me we are concerned more with external faith, than internal faith.

Samson had a show of faith without, but was sadly lacking it within. He could overcome the outward, but couldn’t conqueror the inward. I doubt he realized the most important part of his life was that part that only God saw.

David killed a lion and a bear privately, before slaying the giant publicly. The greatest achievements in a Christian’s life are generally accomplished behind closed doors, with only God looking on. “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.”

A faith that subdues fleshly desires on the inside, to me, is better than a faith that can remove mountains on the outside.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Top Priority

“…but though our outward man perish…” There is no question we should care for our bodies, as well as our spirits, for both are God’s. However, our first priority should be the latter, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things.” Therefore, Paul continues, “[E]xercise thyself rather unto godliness.” The Tabernacle of old was temporary, and would perish with time, giving way to a permanent Temple. And so it is with the present tabernacle in which we live.

The culture in which we live today puts all its emphasis on our deteriorating outer man. David likens our lives to a snail that melts away. We grow weak and feeble; we lose vigor and elasticity. But no matter how great the vigor, gradually decay will bring death. This outer cannot long hold up under all of life’s afflictions and burdens. The wear and tear of it takes its toll, till we finally sink into the grave.

But, thank God, the inner man is eternally young, and that youth is renewed day by day. As the body grows feebler, the soul gains in strength. And, just as the body draws nearer to the grave, the soul is more invigorated and rises toward Heaven. What a surprise for the materialist to find there’s more to a Christian than decaying, dying matter. He has an eternal soul and a new glorified body awaiting him in the resurrection of the just.

In the Resurrection, God takes the Treasure from the earthen vessel, and transfers it into a new, heavenly one.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Perfection

My homespun definition of perfection is, “Completeness at stages.” A good example would be a carpenter building a table. There is the time of completion when putting together the rough materials; then come the sanding, staining, and the final shellacking. At each of these stages we would say to the professional, “That’s perfect.” Meaning, at that particular stage.

The Christian life is like this, we are all at various junctures in our lives at any given time. No one moves immediately from the first point to the last, without experiencing those in-between. Some, whom the “Master Builder” has moved to another stage, are in danger of looking back critically on those who are now where they were at one time. It would be wise to listen to the song that falls from the lips of these who are treading the path to the Celestial City; those following the more advanced saints. Part of the lyrics goes something like this: “He’s still working on me.” It is well for all of us to remember this.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Powerless Pretenders

“We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth...And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” Here we have some amateur actors assuming authority over one of Satan’s emissaries. But they lacked one important ingredient: authentic authority. Satan’s evil spirits are only subservient to God’s Holy Spirit.

There are still spiritual pretenders trying to perform like Paul. But the apostle tells us emulations are a work of the flesh, and always unprofitable. Satan sees through religious masks, for he is a master of disguise himself. He is always trying to be someone else. That’s what caused his fall. “I will be like the most high God.”

Only those yielded to God are on Satan’s watch list of potential threats. To all the rest he says, “...but who are ye?” To every Spirit-filled child of God, Jesus has personally relegated authority, for it is the Spiritual person who will not misuse God’s power for his own gratification, but only for good. It is to the latter of these that Jesus promised, “Behold, I give unto you power...over all the power of the enemy.”

When David stripped himself of another’s armor, and armed himself with the authority of God, his enemy fell before him.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Secret of God’s Use of Me

Over the years I’ve been asked on occasions both by young preachers, as well as laymen, if there was any secret of God’s use of me. To deny God’s unusual use of this marred vessel through-out these many long years, for me would be the worst kind of false humility. As I look back over my life and ministry, I stand in awe, as do those who know a little of my past circumstances.

I was brought up in a home where the norm was infidelity, cursing, arguing, lies, drunkenness, and hurt. I was molested at the early age of five, and it continued for the next few years. God and religion were never mentioned, unless in a slang way. My schooling ended at the ninth grade, when I joined the U.S.A.F. as a seventeen year old boy, and went shortly thereafter to Korea.

And so, why is it God would use such a one as me? Contrary to many, I do not believe it was in spite of these handicaps, but because of the very fact of them, so that, “No flesh should glory in His presence.”

Apart from God’s Sovereignty, I believe there are seven things from the human standpoint that went into His use of this “wash pot.” (Psl.60:8, a)

Firsst, I gave everything to Jesus Christ from the first. All, then, now, and forever was to be His.

Second, I sought the anointing of the Spirit, and He graciously poured His Holy Ghost upon this dry, thirsty soul.

Third, The King James Bible was, and is, “The Book.” No kitchen knives, as the new translations, but only God’s sharp two-edged sword.

Fourth, To the best of my ability, God’s Glory was to always be first and foremost.

Fifth, I determined to go-it-alone, if need be, whatever the cost.

Six, I knew there would be a lot of knock-downs, so I decided I’d always get up one more time.

Seven, I made it a reality that if I were to ever sin and give it all up, I’d regret it, every day, and the rest of my life.

“God can hit an awful hard lick with a crooked stick, if the stick belongs to Him.” (Dr. Joe Henry Hankins)

The Devil’s Dollar

It’s purported that an old drunk on skid row offered the Evangelist D.L. Moody a dollar bill, which he readily accepted. When asked why he received such a gift from such a person, his reply was simply, “The devil has used it long enough; it’s time to put it into God’s service.”

David took the world’s means and used them in a way contrary to them. The smooth stones he used to slay Goliath (1Sam.17:17:40), were used by the heathen in their worship (Isa.57:6). And don’t forget the youngster took the giant’s own sword and used it against him to sever his head Check Spellingfrom his body (1Sam.17:50-51)

I remember in the early 50’s how Billy Graham was criticized for using television in getting out the gospel. Now most, if not the entire world has heard it. If you have not yet begun to take the world’s technical knowledge and turnit against them, it is time to start. As Moody said, “The devil has used it long enough.”Moody was right!

In John 9, the blind man was made to see, when Deity from Heaven used the cursed dirt of this world.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

*From God To You.

“But when it pleased God…To reveal…in me…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood”. God deals with each of us personally and individually when it concerns His will. At these times the direct approach is used, and He by-passes man. As Jesus told Peter, “...Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

It is always a wise thing to seek out council and advice when unsure or unclear. But never, never, never, at those times when God has clearly shown you what He wants of you. Once the Lord has made plain His desire, there is to be no delay or deliberation, just an, “immediately”.

When you know what God wants you to do, do it. If you wait, you’ll be talked out of it, either by, Satan, others, or by you yourself.

Light rejected brings greater darkness.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Looking Is Not Enough

Paul, writing to his young protégé Timothy, warned him of “doctrines of devils.” Under the guise of spiritual leadership, authoritarian spirits would both “forbid” and “command.” The former having to do with marriage; the latter being related to meats. But the Bible teaches “Marriage is honourable in all,” and that meats are to be “received with thanksgiving.” Yet some had departed from the faith and had given heed to these “seducing spirits.”

Paul is addressing professing Believers in this instance. The safeguard he tells them from not going away from the truth is in both believing and knowing it. Not just in believing the truth, but knowing it. The fact that they were Believers tells us they believed the truth. The problem lay in the fact that they did not know the truth. Belief of the truth is not good enough; you must know it. Many of God’s children believe the Bible is true, yet their lives are in shambles for lack of knowledge of it.

In other words, just looking at the scale doesn’t take off weight. I hope you get my meaning!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Snubbing Good Advice

Ahab, like many today, turned his nose up at good advice. The reason was that the one giving it didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. He was looking for agreement, not advice. He said of Micaiah, “…he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil.” It was for this reason Micaiah earned Ahab’s hatred.

Some people don’t seem to understand, you can’t prophecy good things to bad people.
They criticize their advisor for rubbing the cat the wrong way, while all the time refusing of turn the cat around themselves. If one wants to hear good, he or she must of necessity be willing to do good.

It is always a wise thing to seek the counsel of the wise. Only a fool rejects the advice of a person who has already been down the road they’re to travel. Know-it-alls end up finding out they knew nothing at all. They incessantly run into ditches and wonder why they can’t get anywhere on the road of life.

On my way to a speaking engagement, I once went a hundred miles the wrong way, simply because I would not ask for directions. You’ll never get where you want to go by going the wrong way. The sooner you stop and ask the right way the sooner you will arrive at your desired destination.

Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns! ~Allison Gappa Bottke

Sunday, September 26, 2010

*Precious Memories

When Paul admonishes “Forgetting those things which are behind,” he is not speaking of the pleasantries of the past, but rather, only those things that would bring us down or puff us up. Throughout the Scriptures, God encourages His children by reminding them of the prized blessings He bestowed upon them in the past. He only deviates from this when we are in danger of straying, and a warning is needed. He never brings up anything that was unpleasant in our past to discourage us. That is the ministry of Satan.

It is good to sit down now and then and think back of all the wonderful and good things He has done for us. There is nothing that will produce courage to go on, and faith to face the future, like the precious memories of the past. Take a little time this very moment and “…consider how great things he hath done for you.”

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

Friday, September 24, 2010

*Narcissistic Christians

I go along with A.W. Tozer who detested contemporary words that were in vogue. One such word at present is “narcissist.” Though I do not care for its worn-out over-use, I am, nevertheless, fascinated by its derivation. It comes from the Greek word “narke,” (narcotic) meaning numbness or stupor. In Greek mythology, we are told there was a young man named Narcissus, who pined his life away by falling in love with his own reflection.

It is difficult for many who pass as “sacrificial Christians” to believe they would fit into this category. But Paul tells us, in no uncertain terms, such creatures exist. The old saint told the proud Corinthians that it was possible for him to, “Bestow all [his] goods to feed the poor, and…give [his] body to be burned,” yet it profit him nothing. Why? Because he could be doing it with the wrong motive, for self. In other words, he would be a “Narcissistic Christian,” if you please. We Christians who live sacrificial lives need to be careful using the word “narcissist” of others; it might just boomerang on us!

“God sends no one away empty, except those who are full of themselves.” (D.L. Moody)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting To Hit Bottom

The world’s little clichés and philosophies often sound good at first, and even reasonable, until they’re scrutinized by the scriptures. One such erroneous saying, held by many, is that there is some kind of charm about hitting bottom. That one automatically starts up again after this sudden, jarring stop in their lives. You know, "Once you've hit bottom the only place to go is up."

Two things come to mind when I hear such a statement. First, numerous souls die before hitting bottom. David says some men do not “live out half their days.” And secondly, many at the bottom do not ascend, but rather descend further down. As Amos tells us, they “dig deeper into hell.” During the Second World War, the enemy made our boys dig their own graves, but the people I refer to are not coerced to do so.

Scores of parents, loved ones, and friends feel responsible for these self-appointed “destructees.” Don’t be; they are natural born grave-diggers. With all our short-comings, most of us did our best in raising children and being a friend! Pray tell me, what more could you have done than you have done? Or as God says to His people, “What could have been done more…that I have not done...?”

We are what we have been becoming!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Agony of Indecision

Someone has said, “Make a decision even if it’s the wrong one.” At the first hearing of this, we may kick against the pricks, so to speak. But after mulling it over in our mind we find there is more wisdom in this little statement than we first believed. Fretting over indecision keeps all our attention on that very fact, therefore we lose our focus on Christ!

The general Commission was to preach the gospel to the entire world. And so Paul sets out to obey God’s command by going to a certain province, but God said, “No!” And so he prepares to travel to another location. Again, an emphatic, ‘No!’ Then, after these two attempts, comes a clear vision of what God would have him to do.

We learn from this that the Lord can correct wrong decisions, but He cannot help those who passively stand by and make no decision at all. God admonishes, “Go thee one way or the other, either on the right hand, or on the left” Pray, search the scriptures, and then do the best you can in making your choice. Once you have, don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t turn back unless God providentially shows you in no uncertain terms, another way.

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Under the Circumstances

The answer many give when asked how they are is, “Fine, under the circumstances.” But as a dear preacher friend of mine, Dr. Tom Malone, who has gone on to be with the Lord used to say, “No child of God has any business being under the circumstances, he is to live above them.”

The word circumstance comes from two Latin words: circum, around; and stance, to stare, standing. So if we put them together it means to stand looking around. The problem with this is that the Christian is not to look around first, but rather look up .When Peter looked at the circumstances instead of Christ he began to sink.

Like Jonah’s whale, circumstances can swallow you up. It says of Elijah that, “…when he saw,” that is, what was transpiring around him, he went into a deep fit of depression. But on the other hand, when everything was falling apart around Isaiah he tells us, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” Here we see it doesn’t have to do with one’s outlook, but his Up-look.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tarry at the Promise

“…men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” It is supposed all God’s people are praying people. In spite of all the mysteries involved, the followers of Christ should pray without ceasing. It should be as natural as breathing. It’s not something you think about or talk about; you just do it.

But why the shortness of breath? Why the weariness? Why the loss of heart in our prayer petitions? Simple. Because of the time lapse involved. God is not on our time table. He goes by Heavenly Standard Time. Concerning the woman’s plea in our story, it says of the judge, “…he would not for a while: but afterward…” God’s delays are not denials.

Persevering prayer is the prescription for getting our petitions granted. We need patience in prayer. We can be assured “…though he bear long with [us]…” yet he will answer His own elect that cry unto Him day and night. The prophet knew this when he penned, “…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

God’s “afterwards” is worth waiting for.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Worth of Your Word

Years ago, a crooked contractor took the church I was pastor of for some twelve-thousand dollars. When I showed an attorney the contract and the man’s signed name to it, his reply was: “Preacher, that name is of no more value than the paper it’s written on.”

There was a day when a man was as good as his word. But I’m afraid those times are far in the past. But I guess that is to be expected. When an individual can break God’s Commandments without any conscience of wrong doing, he or she will break their word to another human, without blinking of an eye.

A Christian should keep his or her word to God, as well as to other believers. Paul’s principle for Believer’s was, if you promise it, perform it. The wise man tells us God does not take lightly those who break their word to him. And your brother or sister in Christ has little use for one who does not follow through with their pledge.

Let’s get back to being honorable men and women. If we promise something, let us perform the doing of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Does Your Bible Have Bite?

The Word preached by the prophets, apostles, and preachers in the Holy Scriptures had a bite to it. It had two-edges, both equally razor-sharp. Today’s modern translations have left the healing side, but filed to a dull edge the wounding side. We are told when Peter, that unlearned and ignorant fisherman, preached, the people were “pricked” and “cut” to the heart. The Word he preached had teeth. Today’s ministers seem to be “gummin it,” if you’ll pardon the expression.

I notice in the contemporary books of our day that we are made to believe such men as A.W. Tozer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and A.W. Pink used watered-down translations. Certainly these men did not believe the Authorized Version as this writer does, but it was their main source in reading, studying, writing, and preaching. Tozer, in referring to an anemic translation of his day, said it was like “shaving with a banana.”

In referring to the Authorized Version Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “Still, there are certain few differences that remain, but it is significant that they are never with respect to doctrine or historical facts. It is a matter of figures or something which is comparatively unimportant and which can be explained quite readily - the mistake, perhaps, of a copyist, or of some translator. There is nothing which in any way interferes with vital, essential doctrine. So what we affirm and state is this: The original documents, as originally written, are inerrant and infallible. We say even of this Authorized Version that apart from a mere handful of minor discrepancies, which hitherto have not been explained and which are completely unimportant, this is the Word of God and the only infallible rule for faith and conduct.”

“Other translations will doubtless jostle for place in the nation’s bookstores in the twenty-first century. Yet the King James Bible retains its place as a literary and religious classic, by which all others continue to be judged.” (Alister Mc Grath)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

FEAR.

Someone has said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” I’m so grateful that early in my Christian life, I was shown that courage is not necessarily the absence of fear—that they can run side by side, and generally do. Courage is simply going on by faith in spite of fear. We are told in the Scriptures “by faith they feared not.” I have been plagued by fear since I was a small boy. Learning the above truth, after my conversion, has helped me tremendously.

How often we fear the intangible—a nameless dread grips and numbs our spirits. We seem to be afraid of anything and everything. We fear people, the past, and the future. We are fearful of the unknown, of undertaking responsibilities, and making decisions. If not careful, we can live a lifetime of fear. The writer of Hebrews describes such people. He says, “Through fear...were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”


Fear paralyzes. And John tells us, “Fear hath torments.” But, thank God, we no longer have to be held in this vice of fearfulness. God promises, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say...I will not fear.” A consciousness of His presence will do away with this dreaded plague, Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Remember, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

"Courage is being scared to death- but saddling up anyway." (John Wayne)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

“Missed-understanding”

One of the effects of the Fall is having a carnal confidence in our own understanding. I emphasize “our own.” Since that notable but tragic day in the Garden, man’s understanding has been darkened. Only by Divine light shining upon his clouded intellect will he be enlightened. To trust our own understanding is to lean, as it were, upon a broken reed; it just won’t hold one up. It is difficult for most to admit “…there is none that understandest.” It is not figgerin’ or finagelin’ but “…by faith we understand…”

David had difficulty trying to understand one of life’s great mysteries. Speaking of this agonizing experience, he writes, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went unto the sanctuary of God; then I understood…” David got it, once his understanding was sanctified.

We all need a humble spirit, as the Ethiopian eunuch. When asked by Philip “understandest thou…” his reply was “…How can I except…” Until we go to God for life’s answers, nothing will make sense to us; we’ll never understand!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

God’s a Good Listener

“O thou that hearest prayer...” Hearing prayer is a part of God’s nature. It is one of His attributes. He is a generational God—the same yesterday, today and forever. He heard earnest prayers before the flood as well as after it. He heard the prayers of His people when they were in the land of Canaan and in Babylonian captivity. He heard the prayer of a Canaanitish woman and those of the chiefest apostle. God eagerly waits to hear our prayers, no matter what the condition or our position in life.

But how many of us are like Job of old, who, in his dark hour cried, “If I had called...yet would I not believe that he had harkened unto my voice.” The persecuted, primitive Church had the same problem. Praying for Peter’s deliverance from prison, and told by the maid, Rhoda, that God had heard their prayer, they answered, “Thou art mad.”

O why are we so slow to believe He will hear us? In spite of scores of great prayer promises, we still refuse to believe. Listen to one such promise given to Jeremiah while he was shut up in prison: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

If He hears the young ravens that cry to Him for food, “are ye not much better than they?”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Total Depravity

God tells us through His prophet Isaiah that man is depraved, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head.” J.I. Packer defines depravity as a, “universal deformity of human nature, found at every point in every person.” It is total in its degree of corruption, both in our moral and spiritual makeup. No part of us is left untouched by sin. Therefore, total depravity necessitates total inability. We need God’s divine intervention in our lives from start to finish.

We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners, and it’s our nature to do so. The external life may look healthy, but the inward is eaten up with cancerous sin. As C.S. Lewis states, “Of all created beings the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God.” Dress a corpse with all the niceties you will, but it is still putrefying within. Cosmetics can’t change that.

We see horrible things happening all around us today, and invariably someone will say, “If I know my heart, I could never do such a thing.” The truth is we do not know our hearts. The Bible tells us that it’s, “… deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We are like Peter when the Lord told him the hideous thing he was about to do; he believed others could do such a thing, but never himself. My friend, we are capable of the vilest acts; therefore, let us humble ourselves, bowing in the dust before our God, trusting Him to keep us.

All of mankind has black hearts hiding behind white vests!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bigger Than Life

My grandfather was 5’3” in height, and weighed around 115 pounds. He worked forty years as a night watchman at a paper mill. I remember, as a little boy, them giving him a gold pocket watch when he retired. It was a cherished possession till his death.

My mother told me she remembers him leaving their Kentucky home when she was a small child, and going to Ohio for work. He would send most of his pay check to my granny to save. He was only able to come home once a month. But after a year, he had saved enough to move his wife and seven children to their new home.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “A Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than the whole world.” Well, there are some folks whose souls are bigger than the body which houses them. That is, the inside is larger than the outside. There is many a man and woman who have giant characters hidden in small vessels. You can always spot them, whenever you’re in their presence. It seems there is something inside them that wants to break out and hug the whole hurting world.



Goliath had a little man inside a giant of a body; David, a giant of a man in a small body!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Steps

If you’ve been saved any length of time, then you are probably familiar with the Bible story of the Pharisee and the Publican. We find from this account, that after all is said and done, each of us has one of two choices in our approach to God. We come before Him with religious pride or a humble spirit. And need I mention which of the two our Lord commended?

An old Puritan wrote, “Humility is the repentance of pride.” I am fearful that far too many of us come into Gods presence with our spiritual “credentials”, hoping to impress Him. But He cares not for our “rags of righteousness”.

If we are to see things happen in our homes, churches, ministries, and personal lives, then we need to realize the first step toward God is a humble heart. And how does one acquire this? C. S. Lewis tells us, “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed”.

“Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grand-father nothing.” (Puritan Saying)

The Divine Alphabet

“I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book.” It’s been said of the writings of C.S. Lewis that his first sentence always had the last in view. This should be especially true in our Christian lives. We began with God, and we are to keep in mind, that is how we are to end. Though, sad to say, like some books, many of us start out good but end up bad.

To live life without God is like an incomplete sentence. But, on the other hand, those whose every thought and endeavor in this life originates with “In the beginning God” will find at its conclusion the main subject of their sentence—God.

A heathen philosopher once asked: “Where is God?” The Christian answered: “Let me first ask you, where is He not?”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Perpetual List

If there is any practical lesson to be learned from Creation, it is this: The Lord didn’t do it all in one day. So why must we? Our frustration comes from refusing to follow this Divine example. We are constantly trying to tie-up all the loose ends by the end of one day. It might be well for us to remember that there will always be untied shoes awaiting us.

Life doesn’t stand still while we get it all together; it’s an ongoing thing. We must learn to go with the flow. Because of this, the only thing left for us is to prioritize our lives, putting the most important things at the top. And what you don’t get done today, transfer to tomorrow’s list, always keeping in mind, you’ll never catch-up. Or, as someone has so apply said: “When you die, your in-basket won’t be empty

A good philosophy to live by is to do what comes next; that is, “Do the next thing.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seeing the Invisible God

“...what likeness will ye compare unto him?” The teacher asked the little boy, “What are you drawing?” To which the little fellow answered, “A picture of God.” “But no one knows what God looks like,” said the teacher. Smiling, the young artist replied, “They will when I get through!”

I’m afraid many of us, also, are guilty of this attempt. We conjure up in our minds a mental picture of God. To paint His image on the canvass of our minds is just as wrong as drawing it on paper or chiseling it in stone. To do so is to break the second commandment.

It is impossible to please God until you, by faith, simply believe “that he is.” God is eternally invisible. Yet, we, like Moses, can see the Invisible, by faith. You can see God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the only Son Who is the true “spittin’ image” of His Father!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Affliction’s Advantage

“Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes…I know, O Lord…that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” David, in retrospect, could say affliction was good for him. And each of us, in hindsight, should be able to see affliction was to our advantage. Sometimes, we do not know what is good for us, but God always does. Affliction is one of those “all things” that works together for our good. Is it any wonder then that Paul rejoiced in them?

Plenty does not always mean richer; sometimes it leaves us poorer. In prosperity, Israel was prone to forget God. But, in affliction, she could say, “Yet have we not forgotten thee.” More times than one, sickness teaches us more than a sermon. Whatever the form or design, affliction benefits us. The Psalmist tells us the result is that we will keep God’s Word, as well as learn it. And, as an old saint said, “Who cares if the file is rough, if there’s less rust?”

Whoever brings affliction, it is God that sends it. (Thomas Watson, Puritan)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Carried By My Father

In Isaiah chapter forty-six, God says of His elect that they were, “...borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age, I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” What a promise! He will not only carry us in our infancy, but down to old age. As someone has rightly said, “From the womb to the tomb.”

Now we can understand David’s words in the twenty-second Psalm: “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” This was not only prophetically true of our Lord Jesus, but we read it was so with such men as David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, etc.

What a wonderful, secure place to be—wrapped in the Everlasting Arms, with our heads resting against the loving heart of our Heavenly Father.

O, the joy I found in carrying my own children in their infancy! And there was just as much pleasure in carrying my little frail mother of ninety-four in her closing days. If this be so with man, how much more with God?

Just to think of it—we’re safe in the arms of God!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

At the Bottom of the List

The last sin to be acknowledged or confessed in our lives is that of prayerlessness; even if we admit to it then. Samuel says to the Lord’s people, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.” If it’s a sin not to pray for others, how much more is it not to pray at all? And notice, to not pray is a “sin against the Lord."

If we were honest with ourselves we would say with Job, “If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had harkened unto my voice.” It is during those long intervals when God has us wait that we loose our faith. And when this happens, we also lose face. Like the old suffering patriarch, we impulsively say, “…what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?”

Jesus said, “…men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” If you have fainted during a long night of silence form God, try praying. Its a good smelling salts.

"Set no time to the Lord the creator of time, for His time is always best." (Samuel Rutherford)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Lucifer’s Likeness

C.S. Lewis points out, “No one is proud because he is rich or clever, or good looking. He is proud because he is richer, or more clever, or better looking than someone else. It involves a comparison which always goes in the favor of the one who makes it.” How we love to exalt ourselves at another’s expense. This caused Lucifer’s downfall.

God hates pride, and we harbor it. How can we condone what God condemns? William Law wrote: “Pride must die in you or nothing of Heaven can live in you…Look not at pride only as an unbecoming temper, nor at humility only as a decent virtue…one is all hell and the other all Heaven.”

If a person is not embarrassed when you speak to them of their humility, they are proud.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking up the Apologist Cloak

Please allow me to attire myself in the garb of an “apologist” for just a little while. I use the word as the dictionary defines it: “A person who argues in defense or justification of something, such as a doctrine, policy, or institution.” I’d like to use the latter of these three meanings and plead the case for Fundamentalist Churches.

These Bible assemblies have gotten a bad rap from the world. And what makes it worse, many of the respect seeking Evangelical churches and those associated with the Reformed movement, to name just two, have piled on. To be sure, the Fundamentalist are known for often “doing the right thing, in the wrong way.” But in the end, they are doing right! It is much better than doing “the wrong thing in the right way,” like so many of their pious critics are known for.

This belittled band of Believer’s give more to missions; have more young men surrender to go into the ministry; preach on clean living; win more souls; preach on hell, sin, death and judgment; start more churches; oppose apostasy; keep Christ’s coming constantly before their people; pass out tracts; preach on street corners; are unashamed to shout, raise their hands, and, yes, dance for Jesus; and last, but not least, they are the workingest people you’ll ever meet!

So remember the next time you hear one of these uninformed, dry branches criticize one of these stalwart saints, who are getting the job done, you’re listening to a person with no more substance than cotton candy. Hot Air!

It’s one thing to say, “We need more John the Baptists; it’s quite another to be one!”

Sad Saints

I agree with C.S. Lewis who says there are only two times a Christian is justified in being sad: when it has to do with his or her own sins, or when seeing other peoples’ sufferings. The Corinthians, I believe, would fit under the heading of the first and Nehemiah the second.

I wonder if Joseph’s question to the butler and baker couldn’t be applied to many of us, “Wherefore look ye so sadly today?” Or better yet, Jesus query to the two disciples on the Emmaus road, as they walked with the risen Saviour and were sad.

I find when I’m in such a sad condition, like Hannah of old; it is a good thing to have a talk with my High Priest. After her chat with hers we are told, “[She]…was no more sad.” And neither will we be!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The High and Mighty

“...the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deut.7:6). Special—not meaning better than, but, rather, different from. Unique from others of its own kind. Chosen to be a pattern, not a pet (1Tim.1:16). Christians sometimes flaunt themselves before the unregenerate of the world, giving the impression of superiority, forgetting they are what they are by the grace of God (1Cor.15:10).

We need to constantly remind ourselves when observing the non-Christian community around us, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” We are warned to “...be not high minded but fear.” “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were...” better, holier, more intelligent, stronger, or greater than others. “But because the Lord loved you...” He loved us simply because He loved us (Deut.7:7-8).

May God help some of us to come down from our high and mighty perch, and “...walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 7:8); and to “...condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits...” (Rom.12:16).

He who thinks he’s better than all sinners is the greatest sinner of all.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Esther’s Secret

When Esther’s time came to appear before the king we are told that, “…she required nothing.” The other women who came before him loaded themselves with precious ornaments of various kinds; such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, and the like. But there was nothing artificial about this woman. What you saw was what you got. She was not out to impress the king with who she was not, but was willing for him to see her as she really was.

Such godly Christian women today come into their King’s presence singing, “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.” There is no attempt, like Jacob of old; to pass themselves off as someone they’re not. Nor do they try to merit anything before their Royal Sovereign. Their testimony to Him is simply, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” In other words, they never take extras when appearing before the King of Kings.

It is interesting to note that, “The king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight…” It goes on to say. “He set the royal crown upon her head.” If Jacob was a prince with God, then Esther’s clan is princesses. The woman who sat next to the king, and was closest to him, was the one who dared to be herself before him.

"The king's daughter is all glorious within." (Psl.45:13, a)