Saturday, December 31, 2011

Appreciating the Past

Recently, while waiting in the dentist’s office, I picked up a book entitled, If Dogs Could Talk. As I randomly leafed through its pages I came upon a picture of an old Labrador lying in a prone position, his face resting on his front paws. His eyes were still bright, but you could tell that aged body was worn out. Under the photo were these words, “I may not be able to run anymore, but I’m wise enough to appreciate the days when I could.”

When the aged David was fighting Ishbibenob (one of Goliath’s sons) he waxed faint and would have been slain by this giant had it not been for Abishai rescuing him. To his credit, the old warrior was still willing, but could no longer perform the doing of it. Because of this, “The men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle.” They, as well as David himself, realized he had ceased to function as he once had. But as someone has so aptly said, “We don’t lose our value by losing an ability.”

Though some of us can no longer fly as eagles, or run without weariness, yet, as Abraham of old, we can still walk with God in our sunset years. And as we do, we can think back and remember those blessed days when we did mount up with the wings of an eagle, and ran without tiredness. In this coming year, let us “old dogs” appreciate the days when we could do these things!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Departure/Desertion

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”…”God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” A father may temporarily depart from his children, for some reason, but this does not mean he has permanently deserted them.

God left Hezekiah for a season, but did not forsake him. The word “leave” carries with it the idea of both permanency and impermanency. Context is the interpreter.

What is one to do when God hides Himself from His child for a time? Oswald Chambers, I believe, has the best answer I’ve read. Although the super-saints will no doubt chafe under his admonition. In his book My Upmost for His Highest, he says “Sometimes we need to live as though there were no God.”

During those intervals in the child of God’s life when there is no inspiration, no touch of God, no answered prayer, and all is drudgery, what is a Christian to do? He’s to do right! It’s always right to do right.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Growing and Knowing

“But grow...in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The emphasis today seems to be on grace at the expense of knowledge. As essential as the grace of God is in our lives, the knowledge of God is just as important. They are Siamese twins; where you find one, you will find the other. If you are to experience “true grace,” you’ll have to know God.

Where we fail is in not discerning between the initial knowing and the intimate knowing of God. Paul illustrates this when he said, “I know whom I have believed”; the initial knowledge. But twenty-five years later his prayer was, “That I may know him...” This has to do with intimate knowledge. A man certainly knows his wife at the altar, but nothing like he does after having lived with her for forty years. This type of knowledge is acquired only by time.

The prophet of old promises, “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.” This is not instantaneous, but continuous. It to this type of person Daniel refers when he records, “...but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” The absence of the knowledge of God can be destructive to the Christian life. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...” If we want to know Him better, then we will need to “Search the scriptures” for they speak of Him.

Many know a lot about God, who know very little of God.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Vertical Not Horizontal

It takes some of us a long time to learn, the direct approach to the issues of life is not the best route. A detour, by way of Deity may seem to take a little longer, but believe me, it’s the safest. And in the long run, the quickest.

For example Jacob found this to be true in dealing with his kin; it worked for David before meeting the giant that confronted him; Nehemiah used this method before asking for help; and even our blessed Lord spent a whole night before God before making some important choices.

It is not the horizontal method, but the vertical way that brings desired results. Always put God between you and your problems. If you do, they will take on the form of small molehills, where once a large mountain stood. Or as The Lord told his servant concerning his insurmountable difficulties, “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbable thou shalt become a plain.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

*Willing To Become

“Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through   His poverty might be rich.”

He became nothing that we might become something! For our sakes He did this. I wonder; what are we willing to become for His sake? The King became a pauper that we paupers might become kings. He left His world where He had everything, to enter our world where He didn’t have anything.

He was born into an impoverished family; had only one suit of clothes; didn’t have a pillow of his own where to lay His blessed head; had to have someone lend Him a penny to give an illustration; and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Yet, no one ever came into this poor Man’s presence desiring His help that didn’t go away a rich man or woman.

Because Jesus “became,” the apostle Paul tells us as a result we have become, "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” The secret then of enriching others’ lives is found in what we’re willing to become. The poor souls of this world can only be lifted out of their spiritual and physical poverty at our expense! What are we willing to become for their sake?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weakest Link

I think the little adage, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” to be a true saying. A fifty foot chain with a defective link is not one you would want to hold you while hanging over a thousand foot precipice.

I’m personally inclined to believe the weakest link in most Christians’ lives today is not Bible reading, but in their prayer life. I was shocked to hear my dear pastor years ago say from the pulpit that the greatest failing in his spiritual life was prayer. Now, after half a century of serving the Lord, I too must ashamedly add my own amen to this truthful confession.

When it comes to the subject of prayerlessness, I find I like to talk about it, preach about it, write about it, but do nothing about it! Jesus said, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” The context of this scripture is importune prayer.

A young preacher who lived briefly with us years ago used to sing the song, “Why Worry When You Can Pray?” But he reversed it to say, “Why Pray When You Can Worry?” Very humorous, but sadly to say, very true.

I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.



Monday, December 19, 2011

*The Must of Faith

The writer of Hebrews tells us there is a twofold must to faith, the first being, we must believe God is; and the second, that He rewards them who diligently seek Him. This is the only kind of faith that pleases God. It is imperative then that one believe God exists, and that He answers prayer. Neither of these two musts is too difficult to swear to in health and prosperity but is very difficult in times of sickness or poverty.

God is the eternal “Is.” At any given time He “Is.” As David said, “God is…a very present help in trouble.” During tough times we are tempted so ask, “Where is God now?” The answer is, He is where He has always been; present. Therefore we can trust Him in the dark. He is still in the room with us when the lights go out. This has nothing to do with our feeling, but everything to do with our faith.

You don’t feel truth, you have faith in it. We mourn the loss of feeling, when we should be mourning the loss of faith. Frantic efforts are made to rouse up feeling during those times of eclipse in our lives. But what really is needed is faith that the Son is still there and will shine again upon us.

God is, no matter what our lot. He is here now, amidst all the confusion and questioning. But not so with the reward, it will show up a little further down the road of obedience. And you can be sure it will. Habakkuk puts it this way, “…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

God is Singular

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” No, God said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” The issue was one tree, not every tree.

It is important to realize that Satan brings up many things, while God is working with us about just one thing. Whenever the Lord transacts business with us, it is always on a singular basis, not plural. You know; the one thing at a time philosophy.

God is definite in His dealings with His children. He only covers one area at a time. And it is there that we are to meet Him. Don’t be confused with the many things, but rather look for the one thing. Follow Mary’s example not Martha’s (Lk.10:41-42).

When we do God’s “one thing,” we take care of a lot of things. (RDS)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Servant in the Shadows

The Scottish theologian, Principal Cairns, had the habit of saying, “You first; I’ll follow.” Once, when approaching the platform, a great burst of applause greeted him. He stood aside and let the man behind him go first, and began, himself, to applaud. He never dreamed the applause could be for him.

What a display of divine humility. Was he not truly a personification of the text, “…in lowliness of mind, let each esteem the other better than themselves.” How hard it is to push others into the spotlight, while we remain obscure in the shadows. The book of Job puts it this way, “As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Right Righteousness

The Apostle tells us we are either going about attempting to establish our own righteousness, or we have submitted ourselves unto the righteousness of God. It must be one or the other; there cannot be any part of the one added to the other. It’s like Daniel’s iron and clay, they won’t mix! It’s the perfect righteousness of Christ we are clothed with or the filthy rags of our self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness only clothes the outward, the part man sees, but leaves the inner man naked before God. To cap the cesspool within us, with the white-wash of our own righteousness, will not satisfy a Holy God. For He alone sees the heart and smells the nauseating stench that ascends from this pit of corruption.

It is not difficult to determine which of the two types of righteousness one is robed in. In the story of the publican and the sinner, God gives us an acid test. Those who trust in their own righteousness, says Jesus, despise those who do not come up to their outward standards. But the righteousness which is of God always shows mercy to such people.

God’s imputed inward righteousness always works its way outward; man-made righteousness never gets past the first layer of skin. (R.D.S)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When God is a Stranger

It’s possible to know the Word of God, without knowing the God of the Word. The scribes and Pharisees were a good example. They knew the Scriptures, but the Author was a stranger to them. They were familiar with the “letter,” on the surface, but foreigners to the underlying “Spirit.” They could expound texts, but never experience them. And, worse than all, the Bible, in the life of this type of person, hides the face of God, rather than revealing it.

God never intended for His people to stop short with knowledge of the Bible itself. His intention was that it would lead us on to a full and rich knowledge of HIM. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord,” says the prophet, Hosea.

To stop with the Word, and not go to its Source, is to never really know the Person of God. “That I may know him...,” should be our motive when reading His Word. Don’t settle for knowing about God; you can know God Himself.

You may know about God without comprehending Him. (Puritan Saying)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hoarded Grace

Grace originates from God’s fathomless, infinite, eternal sea of kindness. God does not receive grace; God gives grace, for He is grace. On the other hand, we as believers are all the recipients, and (should be) the distributors of His grace. But I’m afraid many of us who are good at taking it in, do poorly when giving it out. We squirrel it away, as they say.

Paul tells us we should be, “…followers of God, as dear children.” Are not most of us poor examples when it comes to dispensing grace to an undeserving brother or sister in the family of God? We are so fearful someone may think we agree with the recipient’s life-style, or that we are letting up on our own convictions. What insecurity lies in our bosoms!

How we need to emulate David, who when speaking to wretched Mephibosheth said, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness…” Jesus said, “…freely ye have received, freely give." When Jesus took the loaves and gave them to His disciples, we’re told they distributed them to others who were also hungry.

If we’re lacking in grace in our own lives today, we might remember God’s way is,  “…grace for grace.” If we gave more, we might just receive more (“Give, and it shall be given unto you…”). Far too many of us are like the Dead Sea; we take it in, but hold the riches for ourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2011

*Where God Lives"

A mother asked her little girl why she liked to go to her grandparents’ house so much. Her reply was, “Because God lives there.” We hear much preaching about getting God back into our churches, but what is really needed is God in our homes. When God is in the home, you can be sure He will go to church with us.

You can’t hide God being in a home, anymore than if a king visited a humble dwelling place. People love a home where Jesus is. Mark tells us, “...and it was noised that he [Jesus] was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together.” It goes on to say there was no room for all who wanted to enter that home. There are some homes where you can literally sense the presence of God.

Jesus loves to go home with people. He went home with Zacchaeus, Matthew, Simon Peter, as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. And He desires to enter our homes also.

As one comes into our home, there is a plaque on the wall that reads, Jesus Christ is permanent resident in our home. I hope he is in yours also. You may have a house you live in, but it will not be a home until God moves in with you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

*Holidays: Worldly or Wonderful?

The writer of Hebrews tells us the first tabernacle was “worldly.” That is, it was made by man and pitched by man. If you went by the reasoning of some, those who frequented this sanctuary would be, of necessity, worldly Christians. By this definition, all Christians are worldly. We basically wear the same apparel (not fashion), use their form of transportation, live in the same kind of houses, and eat and buy our food at the same places of business.

Worldliness has to do with affections. “Love not the world.” Scriptures teach we are permitted to richly enjoy the things of the world. Enjoy; Yes. Enamored (inflamed with love); No! One old theologian puts it this way, “You cannot find fault with the sharpness of the world’s saw. The problem lies in the fact that it cannot cut straight.”

It’s the world’s inward principles and priorities that we are warned against, not necessarily their outward manner. The wrong lies not in having their things, but their things having us. Paul plainly tells us that it is an accepted and expected fact for married couples to “careth for things of the world,” that they might please one another. We are to use the things of the world, just not abuse them. While our affections are set on things above, we can still enjoy things on the earth.

Holidays can be Holy-days. It all has to do with the affection of the heart.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Silence Is Not Always Golden

“...dumb dogs, that cannot bark.” Some years ago I was in a meeting in Canada. The pastor (who is also a veterinarian) picked me up each evening at my motel. Upon entering the car one night I asked, “And how was your day?” His reply was, as always, “Fine.” But then he added, “I had to take the voice box out of two dogs today. Neighbors were complaining about their barking, so the owners brought them to me for the operation.”

A dog that can bark can warn of approaching danger, as well as scare away the menace, or at least, make him think twice. To take the voice box from a watch dog is to make those he guards easy prey for the enemy.

Isaiah is addressing those in places of leadership who are to be watchmen over God’s heritage. His indictment against them is that they cannot “bark.” No longer did they warn of oncoming danger but, rather, remained silent, allowing God’s innocent sheep to fall prey to ravenous wolves that would devour them without mercy. John the Baptist was a “voice.” His enemies were not satisfied till they had taken his voice box out, and neither will ours be.

Silence isn’t always golden; sometimes it’s just plain yellow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

*When Grace Bleeds

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy…” You will never find mercy by doing meritorious acts; it is only to be found at the throne of God’s grace. No matter where you cut it, grace always bleeds mercy. To work for mercy forfeits it. Mercy is getting less than we deserve, grace is getting more than we deserve.

God’s Mercy is described as: great, rich, manifold, plenteous, abundant, sure, everlasting, tender, high as the heaven, filling the earth, over all His works, and, is His delight. The most wonderful thing about it all is that His Mercies, “… are new every morning.” We have a Divine invitation to come each new day for new mercies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

*Weighed in the Balances

“...a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In the immediate context (2Cor.4:16-18), Paul is weighing present burdens against future glory. Many of us, at present, are weighed down under a load of trials. But there is coming a day when we will be weighed down with “an eternal weight of glory.”

He goes on to tell us all the sufferings now cannot outbalance the glory that’s to come. In comparison, it makes our present tribulations look like a “light affliction,” says this old, seasoned, suffering saint.

We need to daily weigh the momentary and temporal against the eternal. It is important to keep before us eternal values. As A.W. Tozer used to say, “The unseen world is the only real world.” Both Old and New Testament saints looked and longed for it.

The Eskimo of old believed in a place where he would someday sit down and eat his whale blubber in peace, and to the full. The Indian believed in a “happy hunting ground.” But, in contrast, we Christians look for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. And I guarantee you from God’s Holy Writ, we will not be disappointed.

A godly man is a Heavenly man; Heaven is in him before he is in Heaven. (Thomas Watson, Puritan)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

*Short Memories

How like God’s people of old we are. It says of them, on more than one occasion, “They soon forgat his works...”; “They forgat God their Saviour.” How short our memories are. Very little time passes after Him working miraculously on our behalf before we begin again to complain and murmur. We question His goodness; we doubt His promises; and our praise becomes mute.

Is there no cure for this detestable condition? Thank God, there is. I call it “divine arithmetic.” When we add up all our past blessings, the attitude is completely changed. Counting our blessings is an ongoing thing, since there is no end to them. David says, “If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand..” “How great is the sum of them.”

“Count your blessings; name them one by one
Count your blessings; see what God hath done.
Count your blessings; name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what God hath done.”

Counting our blessings is like counting the stars; they’re innumerable. (RDS)

Monday, December 5, 2011

*The Family Reunion

“I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." After Jesus rose, He said to His disciples, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." How wonderful; we are of the same family. We have the same Father and God. And not only that, we also carry the same name—Christian.

God is distinctly a family Man. He instituted the family. God's family is a prototype of all the families on earth. And, like all families, someday we will have a great family reunion. Right now, our family is separated from one another. Some have already gone home to be with the Father; others of us are scattered throughout the earth. But in that coming, eventful day, "They shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God."

And we are guaranteed at that Heavenly gathering, not one family member will be missing—not even the, so called, black sheep of the family.

At our Heavenly family reunion, what a joy it will be to see our Father sitting at the head of the table.

Use or Misuse

"Then said Elijah…give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves…and I the other bullock.” Elijah gave the prophets of Baal first choice of which animal they would sacrifice. Originally, neither bullock was sinful in itself, only after it was used for the god of this world. It was then, like Jeroboam’s calf,
“…this thing became a sin.” On the other hand, Elijah used its very like for the glory of God.


Paul tells us, “…that there is nothing unclean of itself.” Peter needed to learn this, and so do we. What we do with a thing, or its effect upon us, determines its quality. A computer is a good example. In itself, it is neither good nor bad. We decide that by the way we use it. As for a thing’s effect upon us, two men can read the same book and its effect differs in each. One can be enlightened; the other may be enslaved.


The little tract says, “Others can, you may not.” The other side of that is, “You may, and others cannot.” You’re free. Don’t think like a slave.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Being Human

Jesus Christ was not only “The Son of God,” but “The Son of Man.” He was not only “God manifest in the flesh,” He was “the Man Christ Jesus.” The necessity for both is obvious. Had He not been God He could not have saved us; had He not been man He could not have sympathized with us. For this reason, we must not divorce His humanity from His Deity. His manhood links Him with the whole human race.

He was like us in every respect, but without sin. Paul puts it this way; He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” By the virgin birth He bypassed the sinful nature, but not human nature. Being born of a woman, He had a body of flesh and bone, and a human ancestry. He possessed all of our frailties in the flesh (except sin). He got tired, hungry, thirsty, and needed sleep. He did not renounce His divine powers, but neither did He His human limitations. For example, while on earth He did not know the time of His second coming.   

Our blessed Lord was born into humanity and was not ashamed of it. Some, consciously or unconsciously, try to deny theirs, by pretending to have a superior spirituality, thus being a notch above us other poor human beings. To deny a fact doesn’t delete it! Paul taught that because of our humanness we cannot always do that which we would like. This is not an excuse; it is a fact. Both Peter and Paul acknowledged their humanity, telling others that they were just men like they, still capable of losing their temper and using a slang word at times.

O child of God, you do not have to convince Him of what you would do, if you could do it, but for the weakness of your flesh. “He knoweth our frame.” Like the gospel song says, “I’m only human, I’m just a man.” Yes, be ashamed of your sins, but never apologize for being human.

 “How thankful I am that when God became man, He did not choose to become   a man of iron nerves; that would not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much.” - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

*Lost in the Crowd

“Thus have they loved to wander.” The people of God did not go astray because of adversity; it was not necessitated by something outside themselves. They wandered because they loved it. They delighted in it. Their very disposition was to do so. The song-writer knew this when he penned, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it/Prone to leave the God I love.”

There is much concern today about the sheep who have wandered from the flock. My burden is for those who are wandering within the flock. They are always looking and longing—wanting something other than the Good Shepherd.

You can stake out a sheep with a hundred yards of rope, with green pastures all around him, yet he will go to the limit of his line, even to the point of choking himself in his attempt to go beyond his shepherd’s care and control. Only love for the Shepherd can cure our love for wandering.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

*Life’s Puzzle

“Why…?” This little three-letter word is used numerous times throughout the Scriptures. So many I didn’t have the patience to count them in my concordance. I’m told that there are countless questions asked in the book of Job alone. Someone has said, “It’s all right to ask God a question, but it is wrong to question Him.”

I realize asking God, “Why?” does not seem the “Spiritual” thing to do, but it is hard for some of us poor souls to deny our humanity. And I, for one, am grateful our Lord understands this, even if the callused super-saints do not.

Many of our sincere and tearful questions, I have concluded, will remain unanswerable and unsolvable until we meet the “Answer Man” face to face. It is then, and only then, that we, like the Queen of Sheba, when asking Solomon her hard questions, was satisfactorily answered. Even so, “A Greater than Solomon,” will resolve all of ours. As the song says, “I’ll ask the reason; He’ll tell me why, when we talk it over in the bye-and-bye.” During the interval between now and then, we’ll just have to rest in the fact that He is a good and merciful God, and that “He doeth all things well.”

Life’s puzzle can only be finished in Heaven; He kept back the final pieces so that He could show us the completed and magnificent picture when we arrive Home!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

*With Him

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I recently turned seventy-eight years of age. The greater part of my life has been spent in living for Him; so according to our Scripture, I would think it appropriate for me to say “to die is gain.” To have lived for Him has been unspeakable joy; but to be with Him will be unending bliss.

My dear, dear, preacher friend, Marvin Clanton, has on his tombstone, “With Christ...far better.” Paul knew to live for Christ was a wonderful thing, but to be with Him surpasses anything this life has to offer, even in the way of Christian service. Will your death be gain? Fill in the blank to find out: “For me to live is______________.”

“Pray that thy last days, and last works may be the best; and that when thou comest to die, thou mayest have nothing else to do but die.”

(Puritan Saying)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Promiced Performance

"And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.”  Those familiar with the background leading up to this statement know the old man, Abraham, was in an impossible situation. But God delights in impossibilities. Apparently, the aged patriarch believed this to be true and was entirely convinced, “He was able…”

When my children were small and I promised them something, I’d perform the doing of it. But there were times because of some unforeseen circumstance, I regretfully could not keep my pledge to them. But God is not under any such human limitations. And yet, as Oswald Chambers so aptly puts it, “We find it easier to trust to worms than to the God of truth.”

If you feel like a garment hanging from a clothesline, tossed to and fro by every wind, be assured it is your human reasoning causing you to be hurled about. Intellectual improbabilities will dissuade one from belief in God’s performance of His promise, every time! We need to follow our father Abraham’s example, “He considered not…but…being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

*The Fountainhead

Anyone with an ounce of practical savvy knows that if you’re to take care of a problem, you must go to its source. For example, many well intentioned Christian counselors tell wayward believers the root of their problem is sin. But this is not so, God has taken care of the sin problem. The sinning saints’ problem is God! Until one returns to “The Fountainhead,” he or she will never find the solution to their dilemma. And so it is with any and all of our difficulties that we face in this life.  

Because one adheres to and recites a creed, “I believe in the one true God,” is not sufficient to deliver them from these sticky situations. The devils hold to that creed (James 2:19). Only a personal relationship with a personal God will accomplish it. Mere intellectualism or even a show of moral piety will not suffice to get us out of our messes. A commercial faith calculates; scriptural faith counts on God.

Oswald Chambers says, “Keep right at the source and you will be blessed.” And dear Amy Carmichael writes, “Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.”          

Saturday, November 12, 2011

*Stoke the Coals

When I was a boy, we had an old coal stove in the front room that heated the rest of the house. My father, each morning, before going to work, would re-stoke the coals. Paul exhorted, “…stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” That is, “stoke” the coals. Get the fires going again. If you don’t, it will go out.

The Old Testament priest would go to the altar every morning, remove the ashes and rekindle the fire with a fresh sacrifice to fuel it. If the priest neglected this, the fire would go out. And so it is with our spiritual lives. The apostle warns, “…neglect not the gift that is in.”

An imitation fireplace in the heart can’t keep you warm. You will get cold without the real thing. Jeremiah says, “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire.” Is that true of us?

Friday, November 11, 2011

*It's Mutual

"Helping together in prayer." There are a number of ways in which we can (and ought) to help each other. But, among them all, there is no greater than prayer. Prayer is to be mutual; it is to be reciprocal between us and our brethren.

The Apostle Paul felt the need of prayer from others. On more than one occasion in his letters you will find him requesting prayer. For example, when writing the saints at Colosse, he assured them that he prayed always for them. But, before closing his correspondence, he asked prayer for himself from them.

Many Christians would have considered these people spiritually inferior to the great apostle; but he didn't. He knew that the weakest saint upon his or her knees became a mighty warrior to help him in his battles.
Jesus told Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." Our Lord refused to abandon him to the devil.

                                                                                

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pick and Choose

God has given to each of us, His blood bought ones, the option to choose whether to take up our cross or not. If we choose the former, it is important to realize He has not granted us the choice in picking what that cross will be made of. It is strictly God’s prerogative as to the material, whether it is to be crude bark or soft velvet. No matter, though they are not identical, they’re alike. Both are instruments of suffering. 

Many have lived under a cloud of guilt feeling they have not suffered as others. This is mainly brought about by “comparing themselves among themselves,” which, says the Apostle Paul, “is not wise.” We must be careful in listening to testimonies and in reading biographies that we do not hold their experiences for a standard for our own lives. All who name the name of Christ will suffer in one form or another, but the form is of God’s own choosing.

The seemingly softer cross may be coveted by some over their rugged one, but if they were to carry the lighter for just one day, they might find it heavier than their own. Sometimes smaller things are much weightier than the larger. Let me illustrate: a missionary’s lot in life, along with his lovely wife and healthy children, may be to sleep on the hard cold ground, in a little hut, in some far off foreign land. As he was lying there, he might have desired to be like a wealthy supporter of his, who is tucked away in a nice warm bed in a beautiful home. But he may have second thoughts after entering the room adjacent his well-to-do friend, when he casts his eyes upon the man’s crippled, down-syndrome child.

Who’s to say? Which of the two is greater, physical anguish or mental torment? One thing is for sure, they both crucify their victims!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

*Devoted: To What or Who?

I have seen dogs more devoted to their masters than some Christians are to Jesus Christ. I know devout people who are devoted, but to their devotions (prayer and Bible reading), not to Christ. Still others are devoted to some cause. They will go so far as to give their bodies to be burned at a stake, or give all their goods to feed the poor. But no matter how sincere or well-intentioned, if Jesus Christ receives not all the glory and praise from such sacrifices, they’re bogus.  Such devotion is, “To The Unknown God.”

Oswald Chambers says, “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus Christ is service for Him.” You’ll remember that before Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His sheep, He made plain his devotion was to be to Him, not service for Him.

The mainspring of our devotion is Jesus Christ and Him only. He is to have all our loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance, and undying love! The Apostle Paul had an adhesive attachment to his Lord; you might go so far as to say, he was glued to Him. Certainly this shows us his overmastering sense of devotion for his “Beloved.” His motto was, “Christ at any cost!” Or as that great manly missionary, C.T. Studd was purported to have said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” AMEN and AMEN!  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Eternal Initiator

A trio of simple meanings for the word initiate is: to start; to begin; to originate. Therefore we see our God is the Eternal Initiator. Every plant that He has not planted will be rooted up. All plans not originating from the head office will never see fruition. Any revelation that does not have Him for its source will lead into darkness. And any work done in or by man, without the preliminary ministry of the Holy Spirit, is doomed before it’s begun.

Had God not opened Lydia’s heart, she would still be in the dark. Elisha prayed God would open his servant’s eyes that he might see the spiritual. Paul told the Ephesians that he had asked the Lord to enlighten their spiritual understanding. All the preaching to the lost to get saved, and pleadings with Christians to live for God, is of no avail if the Holy Spirit does not make the first move.

It’s not that they won’t get it; it’s that they can’t get it! Humanism by-passes the ministry of the Spirit of God, and substitutes it with the abilities of the spirit of man. When you look to man, then you get what man can produce; when you look to God, you get what only God can perform. It is important to always remember, there are things that are impossible with man, but nothing is impossible with God.         

Friday, November 4, 2011

*Growing Pains

“…when I became a man, I put away childish things.” To advance to Spiritual manhood or womanhood, it is necessary for us to leave certain things behind. Like the butterfly leaves its cocoon, never to return, so must mature Christians leave their treasured toys in their toy chests, for another generation of infants to play with.

To ripen into adulthood means relinquishing certain things. Progress and normal development into Spiritual maturity is characterized by a different disposition in every area of our lives. There can be no becoming without a putting away. It’s time for some of us to give up our security blankets. Many have overstayed their appointed time in the sand box. Why be confined to that small area when you have the vast seashore before you to enjoy.

*Concrete Confidence

“What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?” This question was posed by the powerful leader of the Assyrian army to Hezekiah, king of God’s feeble flock.  Rabshakeh’s first and biggest mistake was thinking God’s elect was trusting in a “What,” rather than a Who. The world and carnal Christians put their confidence in things, whereas the Spiritual man or woman places his or hers in God alone.

If the enemy of our souls can shake our confidence in God, he needs no other tool in defeating us. He does this with subtlety by getting us to put our confidence in God’s attributes, rather than the Almighty Himself. Let me illustrate my point. Job did not put his confidence in the goodness of God; for everything happening to him was in stark contradiction to God’s goodness. His confidence was in God Himself, in spite of what He might do. It is this kind of confidence that can cry out in the darkest hour, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”  

Those who have a firm, unbreakable confidence in God are the ones to whom God is a living reality in their lives. Everything and everyone else are in the shadows. They are easily recognized. Oswald Chambers describes them thus: They “bank their faith in God, do the duty that lies nearest and damn the consequences.”   

MISSING: CHARACTER

I am rapidly approaching the octogenarian age, which leaves one with quite a bit of hind-sight. From childhood I have been an avid observer of people and their habits. To say the general population is suffering from a severe lack of character would be an understatement. Surprising as it may seem to some, I distinctly remember the days when the unregenerate possessed admirable basic principles.

But now, sad to say, even professing Christians are in the same anemic condition into which the world has fallen. And I can personally see no hope of a transfusion anywhere in the near future that will restore such to a wholesome life. We are what we have been becoming! Contrary to what many believe, when Paul speaks of, “the last days,” and “latter times,” he is not referring to the condition of the world, but that in the Church.

Just because someone does good in spasmodic spots in his or her life does not prove character. God says to His people, “Your goodness is as a morning cloud.” Character is characterized by consistency and persistency. Nowhere is character brought to a head as in a crisis. A crisis doesn’t groom character, it shows it. As an old preacher used to say, “Reputation is who people think you are; character is who God knows you are.”

“We infect our surroundings with our own personal character.”

(Oswald Chambers)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

*Up Close and Personal

God deals with His people both corporately and personally, both collectively and individually. There are general truths for all to follow, and there are specific ones for each of us according to our person and His plan. As in a large family, there are guidelines laid down for all to observe. But a good father also knows the particular and various needs of each of his children, as well as their potential.

And so it is in the family of God. He does not necessarily deal with one child like He does with another. This is why we should be cautious in reading biographies of great Christians. We must be careful not to emulate their lives in every detail, thinking God will give the same results to us He did to them.

God takes a personal interest in all of His children, like each were an only child. And the blessing of all of this is that He does not deal with us from a distance. It is always up close and personal. “And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Real Enemy

"The enemy…is the devil.” “…the devil, [the] enemy of all righteousness.” For the last few years, I have spent most of my days in “Lion Country,” as A.W. Tozer liked to call it. As with many of you, I have not only heard his roar, but felt his breath on the back of my neck. It seems at every turn I bump into him. 

Far too many Christians are living in a fantasy world. They think Christianity is no more than waiting around for some imaginary “Tinker Bell” to scatter pixie dust on them. Some of us need to wake up to the fact that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground. Satan is not chained as yet, as some mistakenly suppose. If he is, it’s an awfully long chain, for it reaches to me! And for any duped soul that does not believe in a personal devil, I quote the old evangelist Billy Sunday, “Don’t tell me there is no devil, I’ve done business with him.”

True, much is blamed on the devil that he has had no hand in. But on the other hand, and just as true, he is not recognized as the perpetrator of many other things that transpire in our lives. Once we have discerned a thing to be of his making, by faith we need to say, “NO,” to the devil. God never intended for us to be kicked around like a football, like cowards cowering in a corner. With a humble spirit, using our God-given authority, we are to defy the devil.  The question each of us needs to ask ourselves is, “Why go I mourning all the day?”  
Someone has said, “Satan hates God, and the only way he has of attacking Him is by attacking the objects of His love.”                                                      

Born Unto Troubles

The book of Job records, “Man is born unto trouble.” No one is exempt from these troubling troubles. Even the “man after God’s own heart,” testified, “My soul is full of troubles.”

Job was bragged on by God to Satan when He said of the old patriarch, “There is none like him in the earth.”  But in spite of this, this good and godly man tells us, “Yet trouble came.”

The apostle Paul was “troubled on every side,” as he put it. Yet, he admonishes the Thessalonian believers (and us), “To you who are troubled rest with us.” The aged saint, as the song says, had “found a resting place.” That place first being used by John the Beloved “leaning on Jesus bosom.”

Again, going to the book of Job, we find a question each troubled soul is brought face to face with. A question that requires an honest answer, “Are the consolations of God small with thee?” What be your answer, child of the Living God?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

*When God Speaks

“Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Oswald Chambers says, “Never ask advice of another about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will nearly always side with the devil.”

I find God’s voice is distinctive among all the voices of the world. There is no mistaking it, unless I am “dull of hearing.” If I do not have a personal, intimate, relationship with the Lord, I’ll misinterpret it every time. Samuel did on three different occasions.

Mary knew that voice, though it was disguised behind the garb of a gardener. Elijah heard that still, small voice amid the boisterous wind, a deafening earthquake, and the loud roar of the fire. Paul’s ear was always tuned in on Heaven’s frequency.

When God speaks directly to our hearts, we need not ask the advice of friends and loved ones. We need not take our cases before men; we need only to abandon our own course, ambitions, and schemes, and to obey that “heavenly voice.”

When a father speaks directly to one of his children,

the choice to obey is not open for discussion with

the other brothers or sisters.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No, Never Alone

“Every man…shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me”. Someone has said, “Loneliness is the result of the absence of personal intimacy.” No child of God should ever think of himself or herself as being alone. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Whether you are a widower, single, divorcee, shut-in, or aged, you have an unseen companion with you always. You may be by yourself, but you’re not alone. God is good company!

Jesus left us an example, when, in His darkest hour of loneliness; He confessed His unshakable confidence in His Father’s abiding presence. Some have difficulty appropriating Hebrews 13:5, feeling the promise is only for Jewish believers. They feel as though they are opening someone else’s mail, not addressed to them. But the Gentile believers at Galatia are reminded, “If you belong to Christ, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise.”

Therefore, our text in Hebrews becomes one of God’s greatest therapeutic agents for lonely saints everywhere, no matter what their ethnic background!     

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say What You Mean/Mean What You Say

I am not against couples renewing their marriage vows. But as for me, fifty years ago, when I spoke those words to that lovely young lady standing beside me, I said what I meant and meant what I said!

And so it was when I bowed the knee to my blessed Lord fifty and four years ago. It is for this reason I personally do not believe in so-called “rededication.” What I do believe in is “repentance,” after one has broken their sacred vow to the Lover of their souls.

Far too many are copping-out, doing the first of the above mentioned, over and over again during a so-called “altar call,” when they should be doing the latter, with strong crying and tears in the privacy of their prayer closet.

Consecration is a once-for-all thing; repentance is on-going as long as we are in this flesh.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Loaded Down

“[In]…our trouble…we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth up the dead.”

We’re not told exactly what this “trouble” was, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. But we do know it was above and beyond the normalcy of everyday Christian trials. So much so that this suffering saint “despaired even of life.” This unknown and unique experience brought the apostle to the place of utter helplessness.

It’s well to remember that this human beast of burden had borne the heaviest of loads all his life. But this one weighed him down to the extent that it could be said, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What are we to do at such a time of hopelessness? We can emulate Paul. He passed sentence on all fleshly confidence, letting it become history. And, in exchange, he put all his trust in the God who “…raiseth up all those that are bowed down.”

Weighted down with burdens now, weighted down with GLORY then! (2Cor.4:17) I’ll take that, won’t you?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What God Wants

God, through the prophet Hosea says of His people, “Their heart is divided.” The true mother standing before Solomon would not have her child divided. And so it is with the Lord. He will not have His child with a divided heart.

Over and over again we read in the Scriptures how the Lord wants the “whole heart.” Anything less than this is unsatisfactory. Our love to God must be entire. He says, “With all thy heart.” Our love is to be without measure. As the old Puritan put it, “The creature may have the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. Love to God must be above all things, as the oil swims above the water.”

In the Old Testament, the high priest could not marry a widow or a harlot. He could not marry the widow because He would not be her first love; He could not marry the harlot because He would not be her only love.

Jesus, my Lord and Savior;
Thou hast giv'n all for me;
Thou didst leave Thy home above
To die on Calvary.
What shall I give Thee, Master?
Thou hast giv'n all for me;
Not just a part or half of my heart,
I will give all to Thee.

Friday, October 21, 2011

*Taking God Seriously

The most serious thing a person will ever do is to not take God seriously. Whenever we start taking God seriously, it is then, and then only, He will take us seriously!

 We waste our time praying with “feigned lips.” That is, play acting. And a casual looking for Him will profit us nothing. It is when we seek for Him with “all [our] heart,” that the promise is fulfilled, and we will find Him.

It is not a convenient thing to rise at night and go through the dark streets, seeking at every turn and inquiring of every soul, “Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? But it is this searching and longing soul, who alone can joyfully testify, “I found Him whom my soul loveth: I held Him, and would not let Him go.”

We need to be like the little boy who said in prayer, “I ain’t kiddin’ Lord, I mean it.” And by the way, God knows when we do!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fighting God

“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” Webster’s definition of “strive” is: 1) to make great effort; try very hard, and 2) to struggle. I heard an old camp meeting preacher say once, “Whenever you read the word, ‘Woe’ in the Bible, you’d better stop.” When will we learn to stop fighting God? Do we not realize, no man ever got into the ring with God and won the fight? Ask Jacob as he limps along.  

There is no prospering as long as we try to resist Him. “…who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” Mighty Pharaoh certainly didn’t. To fight God makes us look so foolish. Paul talks about one that “…beateth the air.” If we fought the world, the flesh, and the devil like we often fight God, what victorious Christians we would be.

If we want to be changed from what we are unto a prince with God, then we’ll need to stop fighting God and surrender, lying prostrate at His feet, simply clinging to Him. Why go through life with two black eyes?

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these…if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

*The God of Who?

“The God of Jacob." It is amazing who God is willing to be matched-up with. To us, taking time with a character like Jacob would be a waste of time. Our modern day psychologists would agree that you can't change Jacob's. Not only Jacob's natural temperament was against him, but his heredity. His father had an undisciplined appetite, and his mother was undisciplined in her ambition for her favorite son. But how thankful we should be that God is not limited to the laws of psychology!

"Thou worm, Jacob." There was seemingly nothing in this weak, worthless worm that was attractive; yet God said, " Jacob have I loved." We are so quick to look for the worst in people. But God looks for (and sees) the best. Even when we despair of ourselves, God never despairs of us. The God of Jacob can still take a manipulator against God and transform him into a prince with God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Satan’s Summit

“Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together...But they thought to do me mischief.” Nehemiah was both a builder and battler. Anytime we attempt anything constructive for God, we are going to have a battle on our hands. Nehemiah played hard ball, but his adversaries wanted to change the game to softball. To accomplish this feat, they presented a courteous, sugar-coated proposition with the intent of neutralizing Nehemiah. They were even willing to meet him half way (“on one of the villages in the plain of Ono.”) They pretended to want to live together in peaceful co-habitation, but, mark you; when that lion and lamb lie down together, you can be sure when the former arises; he’ll be digesting the latter!

Nehemiah did not fall for this lie from the children of the Liar, nor should we. When the enemy of our souls suggests we hold a top-level meeting to discuss a compromise, our answer is to be, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot...come down to you.”

Satan wants a summit so that we will submit. His design is a “detente” (a French word meaning to slacken the bow strings that are set for attack). In the little book Born for Battle, the writer shows there are four choices in warfare: offence, defense, desertion, or detente. God’s way is the first. We are to invade Satan’s kingdom of darkness, having on the armor of light.

Cowardly Christians are jewels in Satan’s crown.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Right Theology Wrong Thinking

I have believed in and preached the Lordship of Jesus Christ my entire ministry. It is for this reason I feel justified in taking a little lee-way in speaking of an inside problem among us. There seems to be a type of thinking among some of our strongest proponents that we are superior to the opponents of our position. But anytime a believer thinks of others as being beneath him, even if he has the right theology, he has the wrong thinking.

“All that glitters, ain’t gold,” so says the little quip. We have our shams as well as the other side. Jesus tells us at the coming judgment that many will stand before Him who believed in His Lordship, but that he will say to them, “…I never knew you: depart from me.” And so my brethren, I do not think we should go around too puffed up. Jesus may just put a pin to our inflated ego.

Adherents to Lordship do not have a license to “lord” it over those who differ on the subject.     

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Divisions Over Diversities

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” God never intended for diversities to cause divisions. They’re to compliment and balance out. It would be a sad picture indeed if, as my daughter Charity used to say when a child, “We’re same-alikes.”

The Body of Christ is one, but there are diversities within it. These diversities should not divide us; they were meant to unify us. Nowhere are our insecurities more evident than when we are confronted with a diversely gifted brother or sister. You’ll find the disciples had this problem also (Mk.9:38-40). 

I think it would be beneficial for all of us to take a long hard look at First Corinthians chapter twelve again. I personally believe that one of the main reasons we no longer see spiritual gifts manifested in the Church today is because of the rigid regimentation of the saints. One dare not get out of step with the clone company, lest he or she be considered an oddity.

Your gift is not to be hidden under a bushel, nor is it to be suppressed by a totalitarian leader. It is given that others may, “…profit withal”. The gifts are not only for those who stand behind the pulpit preaching, and on the platform singing or playing an instrument, but also for the common folk in the pew. It is wise to remember, “…those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Simple Life/Don’t Lose It!

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."

The Believer’s life is not to be one of a simpleton, but it is to be one of simplicity. Simple, not as the word has come to mean in our day, “a brick short on top.” But rather its original intended meaning; without complication or confusion, plain, crystal clear. You know, like “plain vanilla,” nothing else in the mix, no other flavors.

Old Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used to say, “Simplicity is life’s most becoming garb.” All great men and women of God have been characterized by a simple life, like that of a child. As they teach young actors, “Have the head of an adult, but the heart of a child.” It’s a rare thing to behold in those with great minds, an intellectual simplicity. But it’s very becoming in those who do display it.

Both Jesus’ life and teachings were the embodiment of simplicity. His speech was never shallow, but it was always simple and easy to understand. He was never above people’s heads. “Follow me,” is not difficult to grasp. As to His life, there was no connection between wealth and happiness. Martin Luther is purported to have said during the Reformation, “Let us get through to God. Give us a basic, dynamic, personal simplicity of faith in Jesus Christ.”

There is one thing that will destroy a simple relationship with Jesus Christ: any add-mixture will dilute the potency of the bond between us and Him. It is not Christ plus, it is Christ and Christ alone. He is to be always, distinctively separate from everyone and everything!

“Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby.” (O. Chambers)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pay Up

"The labourer is worthy of his hire." Being cheap is not Christ-like. Many churches and Christians need to realize this. Each laborer is to get what he or she is due, and sometimes double. Many a deserving worker would be legitimate in asking those who hold the purse strings to, “Pay me that thou owest.” But they have way too much character to do so!

James tells us of those who kept back part of the hire of the laborers and how it "entered into the ears of the Lord." We are told that stones cry out, and that Abel's blood cried out from the ground. Well, in this case, money talks! Stolen salaries will not remain silent, for, in the courtroom of God, wages kept back will be a witness.

I've seen many churches and Christian institutions "rob Peter to pay Paul." For instance, some boast of how much they give to missions, while there are those on their staff who seriously lack. I have known cases where the missionary lived in luxury and the staff member in poverty. Charity begins at home. How many will have to someday sadly confess before God that they kept other's vineyards while neglecting their own (Song of Sol. 1:6).

Don't give believer crumbs, when you have steaks in your freezer.

 Addendum: I am well aware the above article can be reversed to fit the other foot. But I’m addressing only the one at this writing.                                                  

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Great Escape

“Temptation...is common to man” (1Cor.10:13). No one escapes temptation in this life. It is one of the proofs of our humanity. Our Lord experienced it to prove His. To be tempted is not sin; to yield to it is. If Satan can get us to think that our particular situation is uncommon, and unique only to us, then we will take liberties, believing God would allow us some “wiggle-room” He doesn’t permit in others.

God tempts no man to do evil, but He will, however, permit us to be put into certain situations to prove our mettle (Job and Jesus). We cannot choose how severe or how long a temptation may last, but we can be assured the Lord will aid us in it. He does this by making a way of escape—a way of retreat, so to speak. Joseph of old used it. Blessed truth! Along “with” the temptation, there will always be a side road to take when you see the sign, “Danger Ahead.”

Satan gives Adam and Eve the fruit, and takes away Paradise.

Therefore, in all temptations let us consider not what he offers,
                              
but what we shall lose.(Richard Sibbes, Puritan)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Around the Clock Care

"I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." The song "Moment By Moment" should be a favorite of all believers who seek to live a victorious Christian life. There is not a moment, day or night, which God is not keeping us. Our God does not work shifts, but, rather, around the clock. David found great solace of soul in this truth. "He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth...shall neither slumber nor sleep."

Our heavenly Father, says Jesus, is the heavenly Vine-dresser who promises He will keep us moment by moment. Whether it is the scorching heat of the day, or the long lonely hours of the night, the Keeper of our souls has us under His watch care. No wonder Paul could say, "I...am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."

"Kept by the power of God" Who knew better than the one who penned these words...the Apostle Peter.