Monday, January 31, 2011

Diets and Doctrines

“How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, everyone one you hath a…doctrine.” Is it any wonder, this carnal, Corinthian church, was so full of confusion? It seems there were so many voices, all spouting their own “pet” doctrine, that one had a difficult time knowing what and who to believe. Does this sound familiar to contemporary Christians?

This has always been, and will continue, until we come unto the perfect man. As long as fallible creatures, such as we, handle an infallible Book, there will be differences. The problem is not with the Book, but the one reading it. Temperament, up-bringing, and bias are some of the things which go into our understanding of the Scriptures. We all, at best, see it through “jaundiced” eyes.

There are legions of diets in the world, like the doctrines mentioned above. All claiming to be the one that works over all others. This causes much frustration to a sincere and serious person who’s seeking a simple solution. After trying not just a few, and finding no answer, the wise person comes to a peaceful conclusion. That being, all of the various advocates of each product have three or four things they agree on, something that is common to all. If the seeker majors on these, they will find solace of soul.

We all ascribe to the Blood, Second Birth, Bodily Resurrection, Justification by Faith, etc. Let us stick to what we all know for sure and agree upon. As to those shady area’s, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” (Augustine)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vile Virtues

My daughter, Leah, told me the title of a book she had seen in a Christian bookstore: If You Don’t Die to Self Soon, I’m gonna have to kill you! I wonder how many of our loved ones, friends, and associates feel that way about us? Some of us are so haughty that if there was a vacancy in the Godhead, we’d apply for it.

The only way to shed our filthy self-righteous rags is by way of the cross. Only then can we bequeath our leprous-soaked attire to the grave. After we leave our vile virtues behind, then will come to pass, “…and they shall walk with me in white.” As one writer said, “No grave, no resurrection: only resuscitation. A crepe with no bier to follow.”

In the latter part of the book of Job, after he silences his friends, Job attempts to prove his righteousness. He uses the personal pronoun “I” and “me” and “mine” nearly 200 times. But after God reduces him to nothing by showing him his utter corruption, he cries out, “I abhor myself, and repent…” It is then the “double-barreled blessings” of God are poured out upon him.

We all need to ask ourselves, “When was the last time I agonizingly repented of all the goodness, virtues, and morality that self has produced apart from God?”

“God is not deceived by externals.” (C.S. Lewis)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

*When Praying is Sin

What did the following four men have in common: Moses, Balaam, Joshua, and Samuel? Each was praying when he should have been performing. Prayer can be a spiritual substitute in place of doing what we know God wants us to do. Someone has said, “You can be so sweet, you become sticky.” Well, is it not also true that some people become so “spiritual,” they’re sickening?

There are scores of things in the Bible we need not waste our time in prayer about. For example, when a brother or sister has a legitimate need, and we have the means by us, we need not bend the knee but, rather, should put out our hand. Any and all situations in life when we know what God wants of us, and we refuse to do it, then it is sin (James 4:17). And no amount of prayer will excuse or exempt us.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wandering From the Word

David loved the Word of God. The 119th Psalm is all about the wonderful Word. Almost every one of the 176 verses speaks of it. In the ninety-seventh verse he says, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Ten more times he mentions how much he loved the Scriptures (vv.47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127, 140, 159, 163, and 167).

A Christian cannot love the Word and the world at the same time. If you have lost your appetite for the Word, it is sure you are feeding on the leeks and garlic of Egypt. You can always spot such a person. Garlic has a distinct odor.

If you have wandered away from the Word, and have brought shame upon Christ and yourself, you are by no way finished. You can begin again. Peter’s embarrassing experience testifies to this. “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus…And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Nothing will revive again like the Word. Men are likened unto trees in the Bible, and water to the Word.

Therefore Job says: "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant."
(Job 14:7-9)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spiritual Weaning

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breast.” As I see it, weaning has to do with two things: dependence and affection. To be sure, this can be a most difficult and traumatic event. Not only do we wean our children, but God also does the same.

David tells us he had been weaned both physically, and spiritually; “…as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.” The Lord weans us from the world, so that we will no longer be dependent upon it, nor have affection toward it. He would have these two traits focused wholly upon Himself. “My God shall supply all your need…” “Set your affection on things above…”

It is interesting to note that Samuel never had any kind of intimate relationship with God, until after he was weaned. It was then the Lord began to speak to him personally. It is not only the bad, but the good also, that God weans us from. We must be drawn from whatever and whoever we cleave to, and cast ourselves upon the bosom of our God. “Carry [us] in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child.” Amen and Amen!

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Need Each Other

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume… No man is an island, entire of itself.” The meaning of this quotation by John Donne (1572-1631) is very clear; human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. The scriptures teach this is especially true of Believers. Over and over we are told to assemble ourselves together, to exhort and encourage each other, and to bear one another’s burdens.


One can be an individualist without being an isolationist. Elijah found this out the hard way. While on the other hand free-spirited Paul proves it to be so. Consistently we read such phrases as: Paul and Timothy: Paul and Barnabas: Paul and Titus: Paul and Sosthenes. As one writer brings out, “It is a rule in the family of God that every one that loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him.”


The wise man tells us, “Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm [alone]? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him.”


The greatest compliment one Christian can give another is, “I need you.”

Living with the Consequences

“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” There is a consequence to every action. This is a universal truth, whether the act is of a good nature or bad. In this article, I’d like to discuss the latter.

Yes, it’s your life, and you can do with it as you please. You can touch a red-hot stove, but along with that decision you’ll have to carry the scars the rest of your life. God can forgive acts, but He generally does not undo the results. Example, a Christian can backslide, get into a drunken fight, and loose an eye. God will mercifully forgive him, but He will not replace the eye. He will have to live with the consequence the rest of his days.

Many cannot adjust to this fact, or should I say, will not. They enjoy “sowing their wild oats,” but not the reaping of the same. But what we plant is what we reap; this is the law of the harvest. Therefore, the sooner we stop sowing the bad seed and begin planting the good, the quicker we will see our desired results. Just think where some of us would be today if we had started this a year ago. So start now; don’t let the time slip by you.

There are two important things to realize. First, if one ceases today sowing the bad, they will still have to reap that particular crop in the near future. And secondly, by beginning to sow the good seed, even as you’re reaping the bad, you guarantee a good crop after the bad harvest. As the old ceases, the new will begin. But it is necessary to understand, there is a transition of the two. So don’t get discouraged! “Be patient therefore, brethren…Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.”

A person can live with a great loss without bitterness, if they’re thankful for what they have left.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Frequenting the Physician

We, who are afflicted with some malady, whether physical or spiritual, have cause to rejoice. “They that be whole need not a physician,” says our Great Physician. “The whole can give the physician a good word, but the sick alone know how to prize Him” (Thomas Watson).

No wonder Paul said, “I glory in my infirmities.” I believe one of the main reasons for his saying this was the fact that he could frequent his Heavenly Physician. If you see your doctor every day, it is not long before a professional service becomes an intimate, personal relationship.

We’re told He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Every groan from one of His patients goes to the heart of our Physician. He’s the only doctor that can cast a look upon the sufferer, and they immediately feel better.

If you're a suffering saint who is too weak to make an office call, our Heavenly Physician will come to you. HE still makes house call.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

*The Magnet of Mercy

“God be merciful to me…” I came up with a little saying that has played a big part in my life. It goes like this: “When all else fails, try mercy,” It works for me every time. Mercy is defined as not getting what one deserves. The older I get, and the more I grow in the Lord, I am convinced I am unworthy of the least of His mercies.

But, thank God, that is what is so wonderful about mercy. It is not bestowed to the best of us, but to the worse. Those who consider themselves a notch or two above other men, and who approach God with an “I think thee that I am not as other men are” attitude, will never experience the sweetness of His mercy.

We have a Divine invitation to come to His throne of Grace that we may find mercy and help in time of need. I personally find myself frequenting this precious place many times throughout each day now. It’s refreshing and relaxing to my tired, weary soul.

God’s mercy is like a magnet; but sadly, not all are drawn to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Greatest of all Fears

I have found in my dealings with God’s people throughout these long years, untold numbers live in constant fear that He will hurt them when they sin. But this only exposes the fact they do not have an intimate relationship with Christ, nor have they meditatively entered into His sufferings.

Our greatest fear should not be that God would hurt us for our sins, but rather that we will hurt Him by our sins. Our first consideration should never be what sin will do to us or others, but what it has done, and does, to the Lover of our Souls. Sin is most hurtful, first and foremost to Jesus Christ. I need only to take you to the Place of the Skull to prove my point.

Darling David, after his sin with Bathsheba, and being responsible for her husband’s death, along with many other innocent men, prayed to God, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." He had, no doubt, forgotten Joseph’s words when tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. Said he, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” To him, a sin against God was immeasurably more serious than a crime against man.

“Our greatest security against sin is to be shocked by it.” (Dr. E.M. Blaiklock)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It’s Your Choice

Yes, God chose David; but David chose the five smooth stones. There are times God expects us to choose the best means to use in taking care of the giant obstacles in our path. We are all different—different in temperaments, tastes, and talents. We are to consider this, and choose what is best, and most suitable for us, in winning against our Goliaths.

We cannot always overcome the difficulties of life in traditional ways. Saul’s armor does not fit everybody. In fact, to use it can be burdensome to us, and cause defeat, rather than victory. Most of God’s people are not trained military tacticians, but, left to themselves, are excellent with their own unorthodox slingshots.

You choose what you’re comfortable with. That’s the way to decapitate the foe that faces you. Never let anyone force you to go in their armor; you were not fitted for it, and it certainly does not fit you.

Your miniature stone is mightier than Saul’s military sword, if it’s what you are most at home with. David “ran” to meet his problem, head-on, with a holy assurance. Why? Because he was using the thing he was most at ease with—a simple sling and a stone.

Rabbi Zusya said that on the Day of Judgment, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya. ~Walter Kaufmann

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sometimes or All the Time

“Trust in him at all times.” Sometimes? Most of the time? No! “At all times,” says the sweet Psalmist. The prophet Isaiah tells us to “Trust ye in the Lord for ever.” And if one does this; God will “keep him in perfect peace.” We’re promised, a man or woman who trusts in the Lord will be like “mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.”

The main godless goal of Satan has always been to get one to trust in anyone or anything, other than putting their trust in the Lord. You may remember Hezekiah’s impossible situation in 2Kings, chapter eighteen. He encouraged the people to simply trust God for deliverance from their dire circumstance. To which heathen Rabshakeh countered, “Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord.”

And just what does it mean to trust? I do not know Hebrew (and most who use it do not either), but those who do, tell us it means “to lean on something or someone.” But, of course, if one would take the time to search the scriptures, they’d find the old 1611 K.J.V. interprets itself (Prov. 3:5 cp. 11Kgs.18:21). In other words, to put it simply, you do not trust a hammock to hold you till both feet are off the ground.

God will never betray one’s trust in Him!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Daily Dialogue

“Day unto day uttereth speech...” Do we listen to the day? It comforts, warns, and instructs, if we have ears to hear. Each morning is a resurrection morning. It’s the dawning of a new day; it’s loaded with benefits; it will supply all our needs for that particular day. His mercy and compassion are new at every sunrise. It will give us strength as required for each 24-hour period. Each day, we are told, there will be sufficient grace. No wonder God admonishes us to praise Him daily.

For we who fear His name, we are promised the, “Sun of righteousness [will] arise with healing in his wings.” The heavenly rays of His love can heal all our ills for that day. He can heal us psychologically, physically, and spiritually. And, what is best of all, no dark clouds of trial can hide His shining face from us.

Someday, that day will be our last one on earth. Let us listen to what each of them has to say to us. May we not waste today, regretting past days, nor worry about future days that may never come.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psl. 118:24)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Satan’s Desire Defeated

“Satan hath desired to have you...But I have prayed for thee.” Desires turn to despair unless there is a delighting in the Lord, and the devil never delights in this.

In our text, Satan is plotting against one of God’s elect, but Jesus is praying for him. And, if our Sovereign be for us, who can be against us? We may lose some battles, but Satan has lost the war. We, like Peter, may have our courage fail us, but never our faith. Why do I say this? Because our Divine Intercessor is still praying to the Father on our behalf, that our faith will not fail. And, God heareth Him always.

Why would the devil desire a man with so many spiritual blemishes as Simon? I believe it was because he saw the potential in this man after his “Heavenly Internist” finished working on him. It’s not what we are that upsets the devil, but what we can become by the grace of God.

If the devil desires you, count it as a compliment and not a curse.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goodness Me

“He is not living for God the way he should, but still he’s a good person.” Such remarks often come from loved ones and friends who are desperately trying in their embarrassment to soften, and sometimes even justify, the life-style of professing Christians close to them. Bold

But the hard fact is, there is no true goodness without God. Goodness plus God equals godliness. Goodness minus God equals godlessness. Our goodness is not good enough. The fruit of the Spirit is goodness; all other kinds are manufactured by the flesh and are unacceptable with God.

To separate goodness from God is to produce a devil in angel’s garb (11Cor.11:14). R.D.S

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hand-Me-Downs

“…for I am not better than my fathers.” One of the main problems of each generation is thinking it is better than the previous one. It seems this worn-out, tattered philosophy has been handed down from age to age. It may be argued, sighting just one thing, that we out-distance our fathers in modern-day academic achievements, that we are a world apart from them. This may be true; nevertheless, there are no Adamic exemptions. All our lineages can be traced back to the same “mud pile.” Men and women of like passions, if you please.

Children who think that they will be better than their parents, and boast that they will never be guilty of Mom or Dad’s failings and sins, have a rude awakening awaiting them. After they have lived long enough to have walked in their parents’ shoes, they’ll find more often than not that they not only do the same, but many times are worse. Therefore, it is always wise to cut your parents some slack. For you will find that further on down the road of life, you will be asking them for this consideration. And those parents who have gained wisdom from their shameful and youthful experiences will be glad to do so.

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until... we have stopped saying "It got lost," and say "I lost it." ~Sidney J. Harris

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sitting in Their Chair

“I sat where they sat.” The Lord brought Ezekiel to the place where he could sit with the captives and feel their burdens, disappointment, and misery. How important it is for us to learn to weep with those who weep as well as rejoice with them. It is not enough that we only do the latter.

Our Lord was acquainted with others’ grief, and so must we, if we are to be profitable to the hurting. If we cannot at least try to imagine ourselves in the same condition, it is doubtful we can comfort them. In such cases, we become like Job’s friends—“miserable comforters.”

Like Ezekiel, we must be astonished and overwhelmed by their misery and grief before we pour in the healing oil. The attitude that says, “I thank thee, that I am not as other men...” will never suffice in lifting up the fallen.

Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, gives some advice.
(C.S. Lewis)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Personal Priorities

“Seek ye first____.” The old adage, “First things first” fits with our text. The reason so many Christian lives are topsy-turvy is because when they list what’s most important to them they put “two” before “one.” The Divine order, as well as that of the mathematician, is that you always start counting from one. The second thing is alright as long as it follows the first. “Things” are additives for putting God first.


Holiness comes before happiness; the approval of men is to be preceded by the approval of God; the welfare of people comes before my personal wealth; “Thy will” is to be before “my will”; the voice from Heaven should be sweeter to me than cheers from the crowd. God is always first in line; everything and everyone else must fall in behind Him and wait their turn.

God is not the caboose, He’s the engine.

They Just Don’t Get It

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned." (1Cor. Chapter 2)

When will we ever learn that the Natural/Carnal man or woman just doesn’t get it. And what makes it worse; they never will as long as they remain in their condition of stupor. The former refers to the unregenerate still in their sins; the latter, to a Christian still living in the flesh.

Both of the above mentioned may be learned in their particular fields of expertise, but as to Spiritual truths, as they say in Kentucky, “They’re dumber than a sack of coal.” For a hog to know and understand a human, it would have to have their spirit. And for mankind to relate to God, they must first have His Spirit.

Unaided by supernatural assistance, he or she will never understand or comprehend the “deep things of God.” With their natural facilities, they may grasp historical truths, and even the “letter,” but never can they know the intimacies of the Lord, or the intricacies of the Word. There must be Spiritual illumination.

What all the world’s intellects, philosophers, and scientific minds can’t decipher, an unlearned, humble, Spirit-filled child of God can! This is why not only God cannot be known or understood by worldlings, but for the same reason, a Spiritual man or woman can’t. Therefore let us try to understand them, since they can’t us. Remember, we’ve been where they’re at, but they’ve never been where we are.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Correspondence on Prayer

Dear Readers: The following is my answer to a brother on the subject of prayer. I thought you might enjoy it.

Richard

P.S. I have his permission to do so.

Richard,
With your experience in the "Deeper Life" along with where The Lord has brought you to now, how would you teach or direct people to develop their prayer life?I have read E M Bounds as well as Mueller and Hyde and others that took prayer to an almost indescribable place not only in their lives but with the results that were achieved. Is our time different? Should we seek that prayer vigil that agonizes and begs for God to work with multiple hours committed to prayer everyday to position ourselves as sincerely desiring God to move?I'm not suggesting a "grab and go" prayer life but as I seek to develop mine further I'm looking for guidance and wisdom from someone that has been there and done that. I believe that there are committed folks that do pray powerfully but I also believe that many Preachers and Teachers today like to talk more about it than putting it into practice.I have been seeking the Holy Spirits guidance in this matter, with ... not exactly any clear guidelines. Is it a matter of patience and He'll reveal Himself? Or can I pick up some good guidelines from Bounds and others that have written so much about it?I certainly would appreciate your thoughts on this matter,

XXXXX

ANSWER

Beloved Brother: Rather than using a letter-format, please allow me to present my answers in brief thought pattern. That way each will be separate and distinct from the other, thereby keeping them from running together, causing confusion at times.

1. I certainly believe in the "Deeper Life," not a shallow one. :>) But not the movement with strong "mystical" leanings. You know, an elite group that has something others can't approach or achieve (Isa.65:5).

2. As a young evangelist I was taken up with John R. Rice. I read the "Sword" and his report of his revivals. My heart yearned to experience such meetings. Then I attended one, and found (humbly speaking) mine was as blessed, if not better. But when I read of that particular meeting in his paper a couple of weeks later, it didn't seem like the meeting I was in. Was he lying? No! It was simply how he saw it. So it is with reading of others experiences. Like "Acres of Diamonds," sometimes it is under your own nose.

3. Yes, our times are different. And I literally mean "time". Jesus is the same, but they did not live in the "rat-race" pace we do. At a Winona Lake conference years ago, Bob Jones followed Rice, after he had preached on prayer. B.J. said in his introduction that he wished he could pray like Dr.Rice described, but that he was always a man on-the-go, and had to pray sitting on trains, in offices, etc. He added, "But I have never entered a pulpit that I didn't think I'd die, if God didn't bless me." I ask you, which of the two was a man of prayer? BOTH!

4. You must be careful taking exceptions and making them a rule. For example, we are told that Jesus prayed all night. But there is only time in His three year ministry we are told this. Sometimes we do not need all-night prayer, we need a good night's sleep.

5. As to "agonizing," etc. these things are not meritorious. Our natural temperament accounts for much of it. Brainerd was melancholy, Torrey, stoic. It it the heart God looks at.

6. As to getting things from God, C.S. Lewis has a great quote, "For most of us the prayer of Gethsemane is the model. Removing mountains can wait."

7. I find many are by-passing worship for prayer. The difference is, in worship you want someone, in prayer you want something. If we emphasized the former, I believe the latter would just naturally fall into place.

8. Every child of God, like in a family, is individual and special, and is dealt with accordingly.

9. I've found, looking back, that the first part of my Christian life was spent on what I wanted; now, in these latter years, it is what He wants.

10. I now "make my requests known unto Him," and leave the working out of them to an All-Wise God.

11. I have now come to the place that I can no longer differentiate between worship, prayer, and communion in my life. His person and presence has blurred everything but HIMSELF. HE IS NOW ALL I WANT OR DESIRE.

Your Friend,

Richard

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sorry, You’re Just One of The Gang

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world…one event happeneth to them all."

God knows how to burst our bubble, so to speak. We are told all our temptations, sufferings, and experiences, are no different from our brethren's. True, the way they present themselves may come in different garb, but the intensity, sooner or later, is the same in each life.

It is important we do not isolate ourselves, putting ourselves in a special category from others of our kind. When we do, one of two things happens: either we will think our situation as impossible, therefore giving up hope; or we will take special, unscriptural liberties, thinking in such cases, God will wink at them.

However hard each case may be, when we feel like no one has ever gone through what we are, it is well to remember we are not the only ones in the boat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

*Blessed Word, “Everlasting”

I’ve been reading a little paperback devotional book as of late, entitled “Heavenly Springs.” It was written by Andrew A. Bonar. One comment he made that grasped my heart was, “If ‘everlasting’ were not written over the joys of heaven, we would be trembling lest the banquet should have an end, lest the day should have an evening.”
We speak of the longest day of the year, but it has a night. But there is coming a day, an “Everlasting Day,” if you please, that will never have a night. And every moment of that day will be spent in the presence of God and His Dear Son, the Lord Jesus.

We will also be with loved ones and friends, and together we shall experience such rapturous joys, which no human could ever imagine or describe. We need never fear the dusk of evening, for the Sun never sets on that day. There will be no concern of it all ending and us packing up to go home, for we will be home.

My blessed mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins, who entered “That Day” some years ago, began every sermon he preached by saying, “Isn’t it great to be a Christian?” Yes, Doc, it surely is, it most surely is!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Praise

“To give unto them…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” An excellent exchange, would you not agree? A good friend wrote me some time ago and commented on the fact that when she was burdened down she would start praising God. To which she added, “It always works.” In other words, she put off the weightier, for the lighter.

The above mentioned saint is also a word-smith, etymologist (the origin and development of a word); I believe is the proper phrase. Kathy did a word study on “Praise,” and sent me the following interesting information.

Praise: Origin Middle English preisier – to value, prize. Latin pretium (Price, worth, reward) Indo European root per - (Prince) - A male member of a royal family, especially a son of the monarch. Prince is defined as the Son of the King. In essence, the word praise contains the name of Christ. Every time the word praise appears in the Bible, it is declaring Christ. The word praise also shares root connections with the word price, Jesus is the Price that God paid for our redemption.

“It is humbling to our self-righteousness to see that we have no reason whatsoever for anything but praise.”
(Andrew A. Bonar)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Bible and Missouri

I find the State of Missouri and the Bible has something in common. The former is known as the “Show Me State,” and the latter as the “Shew me” Book. James challenges professing Christians of his day to, “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

The reformer, Martin Luther, detested James’ little letter, calling it, The Epistle of Straw.” He believed it should have been stricken from the Canon of Scripture. He thought there was a contradiction between Grace and works, not realizing they are friends, not enemies. Good works just naturally follow saving grace. It says in the end-time Book concerning those who have died in the Lord, “Their works do follow them” (Rev.14:13).

Peter tells us when the unregenerate behold our good works, God will be glorified (1Peter2:12). The young preachers Paul sent out were told to admonish those who professed Christ to “maintain good works” (Titus 3:14). You would have been a “rare bird” indeed among those early believers, had you no good works. It is said of Dorcas, “This woman was full of good works.” And after her death we are told, “All the widows stood by him (Peter) weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them" (Acts 9:39).

“The course of thy life will speak more for thee than the discourse of thy lips.” (Puritan Saying)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Those In-Between Times

The reason so many get hung-up in the book of Acts is because they do not realize (or accept) the fact, that it is a transitional book. It moves us, as it were, from the Gospels into the Epistles, from the earthly into the heavenlies. And just like moving from one house to another, it can be a little bewildering and unsettling during the interval between.

So it is with those in-between times in our lives, when God is transferring us from one phase of life to another. It is not too awfully difficult getting adjusted to a new stage in life, from that of the previous period; it’s the time in-between that can be very problematic. Most of us can take the “from” and the “to”; it is the link connecting the two that tries us most. Its the crossing Jordan, if you please, that’s so challenging.

During a transitional time you are letting go of some old things, and acquiring new ones. The difficulty lies in the fact the new has not been proved like the old. There is an element of faith with the one that necessitates us leaving our old comfort zone. None of us like our nest being stirred up. New endeavors take a new, fresh faith, and we are creatures who like to live on the “old manna” of the wilderness, rather than to take the step of faith required to enjoy the “fresh fruits” of Canaan’s Eschol. You can’t get from where you are to where you want to be without faith. Faith is the thing that connects the two. It’s the thing in-between.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

*Mother’s Last Words

My saintly Mother went to be with the Lord at the age of ninety-four. As she lay upon the last bed she will ever lie in, she looked up at me with those hazel-green eyes and said, “Son, keep doing what you have always been doing.” I’m sure you agree, last words can mean a lot.

These past few years since her Home going, I’ve had opportunity to meditate often on her words. I have come to believe she was telling me three things in the context of her admonition. 1) She approved of my life, and how I was living it. 2) She was telling me not to change anything. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 3) And lastly, she wanted me to emulate her philosophy of living for God, “Keep on keeping on.”

This brings me to an inspirational thought I had this morning. Why is it we are so insistent on always changing? Change has to do with direction, growth with continuation. To constantly be doing the former is no compliment to one’s life. In fact the scripture warns about the type of person given to change (Pro. 24:21). Whereas the latter denotes continuation in direction, gaining ground as we travel on. But with change you end up always standing around the “starting line.” You’ll get nowhere by living by this rule!