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!