Wednesday, June 30, 2010

*Reasoning with Jesus

“Lord, help me. Then he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast [it] to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great [is] thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour”.

In the Old Testament it says, “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons.” The woman in our text did just this, and it impressed Jesus so must that He granted her request. She showed no disrespect in doing so. After all, God invites His people to do this very thing, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.”

Certainly, our Lord knows what we’re going to say before we say it (Psl.139:4), but He still wants to converse with us. This is clearly seen in the story of Him walking along the Emmaus road with two of His disciples. They were discussing His crucifixion; and Jesus, who had disguised Himself as a stranger asked “what things” they were talking of, as if He didn’t know. He wanted to hear their side. And He wants to hear ours, as well.

Never fear to present your arguments to Jesus. Don’t forget, He’s the human side of God; He understands us. Our reasoning is no threat to Him. Let us come before Him as Moses, when God and he spoke face to face, and as friend to friend. If you feel you have a strong case, present it to Him. Who knows? You may win out! The woman in our story did.

He that cannot reason is a fool.He that will not is a bigot.He that dare not is a slave. ~Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

*The Young'uns are Comin'

The young’uns are comin! And I don’t mean the children or grandchildren showing up for a visit. I mean by this statement that a new crop of young’uns is waiting in the wings to make up the gap that we old’uns are going to leave. At the end of our generation (and it will end) is the beginning of the next. Solomon puts it this way: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.” In spite of this divine truth, in each generation there seems to be some who think everything will end with them.. As Job said of his friends, “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.”

Because of this, we who are passing off the scene need to help the next crop of God’s children along. This is not done by shutting them out, but by taking them in. In spite of presenting our generation as being superior to the previous ones, it remains a fact that we are pretty much alike. The costumes and sets may change, but the actors and scripts stay about the same.

It’s true; David served his own generation, but equally true is that he prepared the Temple for the next. The argument that this generation will not listen sounds like what the generation before said of us. We often use the excuse for not guiding these youngsters that you can lead a horse to water, by you can’t make him drink. I say, true; but you can give him a little salt and make him thirsty!

The one best thing a younger generation could say of the previous one is, “They helped us on to God.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

*God's Intention

“God, having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless you.” To be blessed is also to be happy (Gen.30:13). This was Jesus’ primary mission—to bless, not to curse. The latter is only true when we refuse the former. Our Lord came blessing His people, and, as He ascended back to Heaven, he blessed them. Now that He is in Heaven, we are blessed “...with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

God is intent on blessing us, and it is a serious thing to resist it. The qualifying condition for being blessed of God is “turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” God blesses no one in sin, only those who turn from sin. Sin is the source of all our woes. No one can be happy in sin. God sets before each of us a blessing and a curse. It’s our choice. But if, perchance, you have foolishly chosen the latter in the past, be of good cheer! He can turn the “...curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loveth thee.”

Sin shuts up Heaven, and that’s where all our bountiful blessings are stored.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

*Successful Failures

“And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” This has been my life-long text these past fifty years. He is not an explanation of Christianity, HE IS CHRISTIANITY!

O the simplicity of Jesus! Many have put so much clutter around Christ today that His blessed face is hid from them. They can no longer see the beauty of the One on “The Tree,” for all the religious ornaments hung on Him, thus concealing the “altogether lovely[ one].” He needs not our tripe trappings to make Him more attractive.

We confuse our pious loyalty to our convictions for devotion to Him. We serve our causes, movements, and institutions to the extent of worshiping them, thereby becoming idolaters! It is easy to be consecrated to a creed and lose sight of Christ. What is the ruling passion of your life? If the mainspring is not “Jesus Only,” although you are successful, you’re a failure at best.

Jesus was a common man, preaching a common gospel, to common people, who possessed a common faith!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Daily Dependence

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

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

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

When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Either He Is or He Isn't

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man commeth unto the Father, but by me.” What an emphatic, dogmatic statement. Not one of many ways, but the only way! In this brief twenty-one word sentence, He answers mankind’s never-ending quest for answers to three of life’s most important questions.

He states He is the way, which answers the question about the heathen’s salvation, as well as the good intentions of the world’s religions. He is the truth; this answers all the great philosophers who spent their lives looking for truth in every place, but the right place. And He being the life, answers the baffled scientists who are still looking for life’s origin.

You choose: Jesus Christ is a good man, a bad man, or The God Man. He couldn’t be the first for He said He was God, thus making himself a liar if He were not. As to the second, what bad man would preach against the sins of his own kind? No, either He is or He isn’t what He said He was! Other ways may seem right, but their end is the way of death; so say the scriptures.

The bodies of all the false religious leaders of the past, every one of them self-appointed gurus, are in the grave, while their everlasting souls inhabit the city of the damned. But the risen Christ now sits in His glorified body at His Father’s right hand, awaiting the day when every knee shall bow, and every tongue, both in heaven and in earth and under the earth, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

*Phase One, Two, or Three?

The Christian life is in phases. You start out soaring in the Heavenlies with the wings of an eagle. Then you gracefully glide down to earth, where you hit the ground running, so to speak. And after a well run race, you find your pace slackening to a slow, steady walk.

Going from one of these phases to the other is transitory. It’s not done abruptly. You ease into each, many times, unconscious of the fact, until you have been there awhile. No one phase is superior in itself. It is God’s goal that His children pass through each phase on their pilgrim journey.

At any given time in Church History you will find new born babes, spreading their wings and taking their flight into the Heavenlies, where they enjoy the celestial air. But you will also see those mid-life Christians, who have settled down, scurrying past you, believing (and rightly so) that the King’s business requires haste. Then, of course, there is the senior saint, who has learned to walk with God. And who has come to realize there is still a place for him or her in God’s plan; that being, to mend broken wings and to get those who fell while running back on their feet again.

But no matter what phase any of us are in today, whether it be flying, running, or walking, we can all look forward to resting in God when this life is over.

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb.4:9)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

*Goliath vs. God

All knowledgeable Christians are familiar with the story of David and Goliath, but, in reality, the issue was between God and Goliath. David was only the means—the instrument God used to bring to pass Goliath’s downfall. God was more than qualified to do his own fighting had He wished to. David, like us, was given the wonderful privilege of standing publicly with God against the, seemingly, impossible human odds. As my wife Salle brought to my attention, God has a sling, also (1 Sam. 25:29; Jer. 10:18), and He is very capable of using it.

On that momentous day, there were only two kinds of people present: those who trusted Goliath, and those who put their trust in God. It is so easy to fall into the trap of trusting in the giants of our day. Goliath had the physical appeal as well as the natural means to win. These, in themselves, are enough to gain the confidence of people. The only thing this giant lacked was God; but this always makes the difference. Without Him, we are leaning on a broken reed.

May God grant us the ability to not trust in the impressive giants of our generation, for protection or provision, but in God alone. It is not to the giant Goliath, but to the great God of Heaven that we are to look.

“But the Lord said…Look not on…the height of his stature.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Monday, June 21, 2010

*Transference of Good

“The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.” Yesterday we wrote on “The Transference of Evil”; today is the flip-side, “The Transference of Good.” Elisha hung out with godly Elijah, and as a result it was apparent to all that he had picked up some of his friend’s characteristics. Proverbs tells us, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.” You spend enough time in a rose garden and you’ll acquire some of the aroma.

Is it any wonder then that Paul exhorted young Titus to be “…a lover of good men.” The aged saint knew his “preacher boy” would be a good man, if he constantly kept company with good men. The apostle had learned this from first hand experience. When just a young convert, Paul was taken under the wing of one called Barnabas, of whom we are told, “He was a good man.” And thus also was his product!

If at end of my life they can say, “He was a good man,” that will be good enough!

Transference of Evil

“And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them…” Many years ago when I was a young pastor, my wife brought something interesting to my attention. Whenever dealing with the unregenerate or professing Christians who had strong demonic influences in their lives, my characteristics would sometimes change for the worse.

I believe there is such a thing as demonic transference (in possession or influence). And as in Acts chapter nineteen verses thirteen through sixteen, it is always in a religious setting. The devil is looking for “spiritual” people who are “passive” people. Generally, those people who are not satisfied with themselves, who constantly try to emulate others. He seems to pass by those who are “comfortable in their own skin,” so to speak.

The cause of Lucifer’s fall was in wanting to be like someone else (Isa.14:14). Whenever we try to disguise ourselves, for example in another’s dress, hair style, actions, or speech, we are attempting to hide who we really are, saying in essence, “I don’t like the way I am!” But in reality we are actually telling God we do not like the way He made us (Ro. 9:20-21). Thus, agreeing with the devil’s assessment.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another. ~William Shakespeare

Friday, June 18, 2010

Never Say Never

“Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [men] shall be offended because of thee, [yet] will I never be offended.” Peter’s problem is ours: he thought himself a notch above his brethren. It takes God a long time to wean us of our pseudo spirituality.

Though we do not say with our lips, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,” yet we think it in our hearts. As difficult as it is for some to admit, we are all cut from the same cloth. We’re “[men] subject to like passions as [they are]."

Paul tells us when we see a fault in a brother we are to “[consider] thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” You’ll remember it was Paul who rebuked Peter for his compromise, but who later was guilty of the same. Elijah had to find out the hard way, as many of us do, “for I [am] not better than my fathers."

To be sure, whenever we say, “I’ll never,” is when doing it is close at hand.

*Equity in Judgment

“Nevertheless, there are good things found in thee...” An old Irish scrub woman who was known for giving due credit to her worst enemies, when taunted by others to apply her unusual trait to the devil, said, “Well, at least he’s consistent!” And so it is with God. He takes note of anything praiseworthy in our lives. He does not let things that He is displeased with blind him to those good qualities we may possess. He seeks out the good, be it ever so little.

We could take a lesson from the Lord Jesus in this coveted virtue. Addressing Christians in each of the seven churches of Asia Minor, He made a point of addressing their good characteristics before proceeding to those less desirable ones. First, commendation; then follows the condemnation. Both in family, church, school, work, and life in general, one is apt to take a rebuke better if this order is followed. And those who observe us will take notice of our fairness and unbiased principles.

Fairness to a person’s good qualities does not mean we excuse the bad.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

*A Lion is Loose

“...the devil, as a...lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He doesn’t run about. He knows you can’t get anything done by doing this. Only we frantic believers, “run to and fro.” He patiently walks about, seeking his prey, while we hurry around; too busy to notice we’re in grave danger. I wonder how cautious we would be if a circus nearby announced a lion had gotten loose and was in our neighborhood.

I was watching the Animal Channel on TV some years ago and received some interesting information about lions. First, they have padded feet. They’re so quiet they can walk up and sit next to you before you are conscious of it (Rev.2:13). Secondly, they blend in with their surroundings. The camera scanned the edge of a forest several times and the lion sitting there went unnoticed until they zoomed in on him (2Cor.11:14). Third, he does not roar unless he has his prey; then it is too late (Amos 3:4). Fourthly, they have retractable claws, holding their prey in a vice-like grip (Isa.5:29). And last, they, as the bear, eat the heart of their victims first (Hos.13:8). He wants what God wants (Prov.23:26).

Walk circumspectly, Christian; you’re in lion country.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

*The Right Smelling Salts

“…as we have received mercy, we faint not.” The “machoism” of today’s world, like many of its humanistic trends, has crept into the Church, putting the creature on the pedestal, and thus, removing the Creator. It used to be, “If I make it, it’s because of God and not me.” Now it’s just the opposite. The teaching in some circles is that the feeble faint and the strong persevere. But I’d like to remind some that strong Samson’s have their fainting spells also.

Steadfast faithfulness is due, first and foremost, to the mercy of God. The best would melt like a snail, if not for His mercy. Paul had that one attribute believed to keep a man going. It’s known by various names: backbone, intestinal fortitude, and, if it’s not too coarse, old-fashioned guts. But it is not to this that Paul attributes his ability to “keep on keeping on.” It was simply and profoundly the Mercy of God.

The reason “mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” is because it is a pick-me-up when I fall.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Misjudgment

You can judge the manner in which a person does something, but not their motive. Joseph’s manner in speaking to his brothers was, “roughly,” which was apparent to all; but his inward motive was to bring them to repentance. After this was accomplished we’re told he “...spake kindly unto them.” If you had judged him too quickly, you would have found to your own embarrassment, you were wrong in your assessment of this good man.

It is difficult to be misjudged, to be condemned when doing one’s best. Paul experienced this injustice by the Corinthian believers. Interestingly, in his case, those doing the judging were immoral, divisive, and immature. This is definitely one of those times when the pot is calling the kettle black. But Paul said he had little or no concern for their censorship of him. The reason being, he knew he could not even judge himself without being biased. Therefore he would leave the judging of his motives up to God. It was of little consequence to Paul what estimate he placed on himself.

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ

Monday, June 14, 2010

*A Onesided Christ

“Jesus saith…Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me..?” Philip was like so many Christians today; he only saw one side of Christ. He knew him as Messiah (John 1:45), but did not recognize the other aspect of Him (John14:9). Almost three years of intimate fellowship, and still he was only familiar with this one side of Christ. His problem is ours. He did not compound the truths he already had of Him.

The problem with extremism is that there is no possibility of another view. They can only see one of two sides. For example, as it relates to Christ, they can only see One who looked upon people with compassion, or One who looked on them in anger. With their one-eyed theology they cannot imagine opposites fused into one, yet still being consistent. As a result, the one camp tends to be too liberal, with an anything goes philosophy. While at the other end of the pendulum they are hard and judgmental.

We need to stop trying to make Christ consistent. The only thing He is consistent in is His inconsistencies! Carnal Christians will never get this, much less accept it. In spite of the fact that He’s been, “long time with [them]”. But the longer we have enjoyed His presence in our lives, the more responsible we are to know the complete Christ. Make dead sure when you study the “Lord’s Christ” you don’t interpret Him through your temperament! Those who do, create God after their own image.

Don’ be blindsided when looking at Christ.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hurry Up and Slow Down

There is an old, country, proverbial saying: “Make haste while the sun shines.” But another seems to contradict it: “Haste makes waste.” Which then of the two is true? Both, when taken in the context of their setting. The Bible, at the same time, commends the one and condemns the other.

It is the latter—the negative one—that I would like to discuss. My father-in-law once told me of a sign he had seen in an office. It read: “Why is it we never have time to do it right the first time, but always find time to do it right the second time?

Our problem is that our feet are moving before our brains are in gear. Or, to put it like my Granny used to say, “We are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.” I’ve seen this; and, believe me, it’s not a pretty sight!

Daniel says, at the time of the end, “Many shall run to and fro.” I heard an old preacher say once that in the hustle and bustle of today’s world, he didn’t really go anywhere; he just spent his time dodging!

May God help many who read this to slow down, so that they may get more done. The wise man tells us the kind of hastening we have been speaking of, shall not be blessed.

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. ~Richard Carlson

Monday, June 7, 2010

Life's Contradictions

Life is paradoxical; it is both simple and complex. It is ordinary, yet filled with mysteries. The former involves work, school, cooking, play, and a host of other everyday things that are not difficult to understand at all. But the latter can tax one’s mind to the limit, and throw a person into a fit of despair.

Great philosophical minds have sought answers to life’s complexities throughout the ages, but to no avail. We are told in the Holy Scriptures, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and our children for ever, that we may do all the words of [His] law.”

There are some things out of our reach, spiritually and intellectually. David was no simpleton; he had a great mind, but he knew his limitations. He tells us that delving into areas that God has kept secret, comes from a haughty heart. Because of this he pens, “…neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” Again he writes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

I think many try to excuse not obeying the plain, because of not understanding the complex. God will not hold us accountable for what we can’t know, but He will for those things we can know. And that is way more than I want to be responsible for! How about you?