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.”