Thursday, June 30, 2011

Touchiness

Some words a standard dictionary associates with the word “touchiness” are: oversensitive, irritable, thin-skinned, peevish, flammable, difficult, hard. When we say one is touchy we mean that person is easy to take offence. This type of individual requires special tact or skill in handling them. Or as the little idiom goes, “You must walk on eggshells,” lest you upset or irritate this sort of problematic person.

My wife has a serious burn on her hand. Last evening I attempted to apply some aloe-vera to the wound, and when I did, she flinched, withdrawing her hand, adding, “Don’t touch it!” Is this not what we say to the Lord when He touches those touchy areas in our lives? Yet, when healing, we are told He touched a blind man’s eyes, and that He touched the tongue of one who could not speak, and still of another who had lost his ear, that He touched his ear.

If God is ever going to cure us of our touchiness, He must touch us there. As long as we withdraw and try to cover and protect that particular region, it will never be healed. It will always be a sore-spot. And woe be to the one who touches it, or even comes close. For he or she would rather go through life wearing a band-aide, rather than be cured of their hideous trait. And what’s worse, while this immature, insecure, adolescent goes through life, the rest have to spend their time pampering them. May God help us; may God help me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Enemy Within

As I was reading my devotions yesterday morning, it struck me that Jesus warned us to beware of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He didn’t caution His followers of the publicans and sinners, but rather to be on guard for the religious crowd. One thing that can be said about a sinner is “what you see is what you get.” This is not so in professing Christendom. Many times we find wolves parading themselves as God’s sheep. They look good on the outside, but these “white-washed tombs” are full of dead men’s bones.

How many Christians with means have been taken in by one of these religious charlatans? Good and godly young ladies, in their innocence, have been seduced by one of these black hearts who wear a white vest. Scores of young preacher boys have lost their faith in the midst of a Bible School, under the tutelage of one of these deceiving devils. And only God knows the number of His people that are sitting under religious externalists every Sunday, listening to a man emphasize the importance of the husk, while refusing to recognize the value of the inner kernel. Paul preached, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

You can always spot the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees: their one main concern is how others see you, while never troubling themselves to inform God’s people that the important thing is how God sees them.

“Therefore it is of no great thing if his [Satan’s] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

Silence is Bliss

The four hundred year interval between the two testaments is known as “The silent years.” Some have called it “The dark period.” The reason being, there was neither prophet nor inspired writer during this time. Undoubtedly, God’s people quoted this sad Psalm which seems to be applicable to them during this long night in human history, “We see not our signs; there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.”

But silence does not mean God is sleeping; for He neither sleeps, nor slumbers. What it does denote, more times than one, is that He is getting ready to do something spectacular. In Israel’s case, it was the first coming of Christ; in our situation, it could mean His Second Coming to earth again. One way or the other, a great event may soon be in store for His elect. To be sure, sooner or later, God always breaks His silence.

But this fact is not only true collectively, but individually. When there are long seasons in our lives and ministries when it seems nothing is happening, and the heavens are quite, it is then that the Lord breaks through and pours out His abundant blessings upon us. And so, we see, silence can be bliss.

May each of us, during this muted time in our lives pray Isaiah’ prayer, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down….”

Sunday, June 26, 2011

*The Rule of Life

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Some say since this is part of the Sermon on the Mount, it is addressed to Jews only, but I believe many say this, not because of what they believe but the because of the way they live. God’s standard for Christians today under Grace is no less than it was for Israel of old under Law.

You cannot implement this truth into society by legislation or education. Only by regeneration can one fulfill it. The natural man loves to praise the “Golden Rule,” but he’s inept in practicing it. The Golden Rule is not the Gospel; it’s the fruit of the Gospel. If God’s people lived by this rule, we could do away with our man-made rules.

You can take this rule negatively or positively. It always comes out the same. If we would simply put others on the same level as we ourselves, and treat them as we would be treated, it would make for a different world in the home, church, workplace, and school.

Christ came not only to teach us, but to show us. We will never see others aright until we first see God aright. Until our relationship with God is what it ought to be, our relationship with our neighbor will be lacking. We must see humanity through the eyes of God.

When a Christian lives by the “Golden Rule,” he or she becomes a person of worth.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

But Do You Know It?

While texting with my older daughter, Leah, recently, I reminded her of a Spiritual truth. Her reply was, “I know dat,” quoting her granddaughter (and my great-granddaughter) Ava, who is two.
What we generally mean by the statement, “I know that,” is that we are familiar with it. But do we really know it? As an old preacher used to tell his son, “Know a thing and know you know it.”

There is a double knowledge both in the Word and in life. The first has to do with head knowledge, the second with heart knowledge. Until the former sinks into the latter, we’ll never know that we know.

Lest any think I’m speaking in riddles, John, in his first epistle says, “And hereby we do know that we know…” John did not think it was good enough knowing a thing; he believed you should know you know.

A man, who knows there is a sink-hole on the route he daily travels, yet continually gets stuck in it, doesn’t know anything.

Friday, June 24, 2011

*Understanding Why

“...lean not unto thine own understanding.”  We cannot always understand the “why’s” of life, but we can trust  the ways of the Lord.” We will never find the peace we seek as long as we attempt to understand the “why” of every event in life.  

Bev Shea used to sing a song entitled “Someday I’ll Understand.” That day is not man’s day, but the future day of God. And, until that great day of revelation, we need to trust the wisdom, goodness, justice, and love of God, cleaving to the twin promises that He does all things well and all things will work out for good.

When we understand there are things in life we will never        understand the inward storm will be calmed

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Easy Way

“His commandments are not grievous.” That is, difficult to be borne, as a burden. No, His load is light. His way is the easy way. It’s the way of the transgressor that’s hard. The world loathes His laws. They are opposed to any and all of His commandments. This is seen in their maxims, principles, ideals, and attitude. They are contrary to His commands, and, as a result, there are, and always will be, a continual conflict between the two.

Whenever you find a professing Christian arguing God’s commands are unreasonable, to justify his or her unruly life, you will find just that, a professing Christian. Christ’s commands go against the grain of all those running the wrong way. You have never heard a true Christian say, “God is a hard taskmaster. As A.W. Tozer says, “God is easy to live with.”

Any duty the Lord may require of us is not beyond our ability to perform. What He commands, He enables us to do. Love lightens the load. Jacob toiled many years for Rachel, but they seemed as a few days for the love he had for her. There is no load to heavy that love cannot carry!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

D.V.

D.V. (Deo volente) is the Latin abbreviation for, “God Willing.” I came across it some years ago while reading A.W. Pink’s little book, Letters of A.W. Pink. It often pops up in his correspondence.

The Will of God, for some, is a gradual thing. That is, they somehow seem to have fallen into the flow of it. They cannot pinpoint a day or hour but are assured there was a day and an hour. And their godly lives attest to this fact.

 For others, doing God’s Will was a crisis that became a process. Their thousand mile journey started with a first step. And they can tell you the time and the place they launched out.

Neither of these two is more spiritual than the other; the only important thing in both cases is that the Will of God is being carried out in their daily lives. The Lord’s Will is basically, “Doing the next thing. The Will of God is an ongoing matter. It primarily has to do with “doing.”

Many are confused in seeking God’s Will. They, like Elijah of old, are looking for a “great and strong wind…earthquake… or fire.” Not realizing God is in the “small,” insignificant things of life. You know, like doing dishes, mowing the lawn, finishing homework, etc.

All the above mentioned, along with a hundred and one other things we consider drudgery, are to be found in God’s will for our lives. Once we cease to anticipate the spectacular in our lives we can then see, accept, and enjoy life as it really is: LIFE!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Possible and Impossible

We are plainly told, “With God nothing shall be impossible.” Yet, when Jesus prayed, “Father, all things are possible unto thee, take away this cup from me,” it was not done. In this case, the impossible was not possible.

Jesus told His followers, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Yet, when James and John requested of Him that they be able to sit next to Him on His throne in the Kingdom, it was denied them. Why? Because, says our Lord, “Ye know not what ye ask.” He went on to say, “It shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

God has a pre-ordained plan for each life. To go contrary to this plan, and ask Him to do the impossible on your behalf, is an impossibility. The impossible is only possible in the will of God.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Keeping Your Spiritual Sanity

It’s all so simple when starting out in your Christian life. You take for granted all of God’s people believe like you, and the particular church or denomination you are associated with. But, gradually, and to your surprise, you realize this is not so. You discover that within Christendom, there are Calvinists, Arminians, Dispensationalists, Reformed, etc. These are found within the walls of churches such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, and many others. All of which say their doctrine and teachings are the closest to the truth of the Scriptures. Some go so far as to say they are the only ones who are right, tagging all others as apostates and heretics.

If you are familiar with Church history, you realize this has always been the case, for the most part. And why is this? It’s very simple when you think about it. The problem derives from the fact that, although we have an infallible Bible, we ourselves are still fallible. Possessing the infallible doesn’t make us so. Throughout history, Christians have had heated disagreements on minor subjects, but all seem to have agreed on the cardinal doctrines of the Faith. The fall of man, the New Birth, the blood of Christ, the Resurrection, and His coming a second time were basic tenets which all believers adhered to. With so many different voices in the world of religion, if we are going to keep our spiritual sanity, let us major on these basic beliefs.

Someone told me of an old evangelist who said while preaching, that only Fundamentalists would be in Heaven. At my advanced age, I can still blush. And I did, when I heard that statement. How embarrassing to hear such ignorance displayed, no matter what group one may belong to.

In a family, some can be more right than others, but that doesn’t make the others any less kin.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Word About Words

Job, I think, was expressing to both writer and speaker the power of words when he said, “How forcible are right words!” It could be, the thing making him aware of this was something he said later on, “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!” Someone has said, “Of our unspoken words we are master; of our spoken words we are servant; of our written words we are slaves.”

As a writer, I claim C.S. Lewis as my main mentor more than any other person. Though posthumously, Lewis has taught me three great truths, each from his own life and writings, the first being his intellectual humility. Second, brevity is best, most of the time; and lastly, simplicity is life’s most becoming garb, as another has put it. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. told a great revival crowd in Chicago in the forties that he was going to bring a simple message that evening, because he felt the intellects among them needed a rest.

It must have been difficult for many of the great intellectuals of Jesus’ day to listen to the Sermon on the Mount. It was so very plain. Is it any wonder we’re told, “The common people heard Him gladly.” He didn’t try to impress by flexing His intellectual muscle. He knew in Himself He could, and that was enough. It was there, if and when He needed it. But He would not sacrifice the sheep for the giraffes; He put the feed on the bottom, where both could get it. The only way the higher- up couldn’t get it would be by refusing to bow his proud neck.

Paul, one of the world’s great thinkers and intellects, wrote, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that [by my voice] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an [unknown] tongue.”  I doubt seriously the Apostle would have used uncommon words in speaking to common people, without first explaining their meaning. Polished words are like the curl on a pig’s tail, they’re pretty, but they don’t give you anymore pig!”

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Con Artist

One of the old-time con man’s tricks was to focus attention on his left hand while doing something different with his right. I’m noticing more and more Christians emphasizing on the one hand, the fact that their lifestyle is not sinful, while on the other hand, living one that is shameful.

Somewhere along the road, this generation has lost all sense of shame. Whether dress, speech, or manners, they seem to not know the meaning of the word embarrassed. Jeremiah, speaking of this sort said, “…neither could they blush.” We need a new group among God’s people who can once again get red- faced at such things as immodesty, immorality, and intemperance. No longer are we shocked by anything.

Shamefacedness is an invaluable characteristic in the life of a child of God. Our ability to feel shame is what distinguishes us from beasts. As George MacDonald writes, “The beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast the less he knows it.”       

O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over [our] head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
                                                 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Twin Lies

Until recently, I didn’t realize that we Christians have two sins we hold in good standing. They are what you would call, “respectable sins.” Since most of us commit them, and they are done in “good taste,” we wink at them, giving them a pass. But I’m not sure God does.

They are twin sins, like Siamese twins--always connected together. They are committed in order and almost simultaneously, as in thunder and lightning. This duet goes something like this: “How are you? and the second answers, “Just fine.” Now, granted, I’m not speaking of every case, but, generally, we all know the truth of what I’m speaking of.

More times than not, the first, who questions, “How are you doing?” could care less about the other’s condition. As an old-timer said once to me, when I asked him this question, “Why tell it; nobody cares.” The second little white lie is the answer we give: “I’m doing just fine,” while all the time, we’re hurting from something. True, there are times we can ask in sincerity and truthfully answer in the affirmative. But lets’ make sure when we ask, we are really concerned. And when we answer, let’s be truthful. Lately, when asked this question, my reply is, “By faith, I’m doing great.” And that’s no lie!

God gives you permission to say, “I’m cold.” (Rev.3:16)
                                       Marvin Clanton

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Virtue of Fools

I am made all things to all men…” Paul would not have fit in with that crowd of Christians today who boast of their consistent lives. His life style would have driven these sanctified separatists up a wall. An old preacher once said, “Consistency is the virtue of fools.” Carrying large cash deposits to the bank every day, by the same route, in a crime infested neighborhood, is not something to boast of.

Paul could, and would, adapt to any and all situations he found himself in. To the Jew he became a Jew; to them under the law, as under the law; to those without the law, as without the law; and to the weak, he became as weak. This was not because he compromised, but for the fact he cared for people. He could condescend for the sake of others, while some would rather ascend and show their spiritual superiority.

You will notice about those who boast that they will not change for anyone, that everything revolves around them. These are the kind who holds to their convictions, even if God tells them to do something to the contrary. Abraham certainly didn’t hold to sacrificing his son, as the pagans around him did, but God came before his convictions. And don’t forget David’s eating of the shewbread, “which was not lawful for him to eat.” God wanted the former for a type, and the latter had a need.

Never say what you will or will not do in a particular setting. The safest thing is to live in, and walk after, the Spirit. To live according to man-made rules may appear to be consistent, but it doesn’t mean one is obedient to God.        

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?

“...and set him [Christ] at his [God’s] own right hand in heavenly places, Far above all...dominion…God...hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” When Jesus raised Lazarus, He didn’t leave him in a grave yard. The next time we see this risen saint, he is seated with our Lord. And so it is with us; we are called from the grave, in grace, to be seated with Him in Glory. Our union with Him necessitates this. The text is not a prophecy of the future but a fact of the present. We are seated with Him now in Heavenly places.

Because of this, we are no longer under Satan’s dominion. We have been translated out of his earthly kingdom of darkness into the Heavenly kingdom of God’s dear Son. We have been turned “...from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” We have been delivered “...from this present, evil world.”

Adam lost his dominion power to the devil. We regain it in Christ. We need not run from him but use our God-given authority to make him flee from us. Once we accept, by faith, our Heavenly, God-given position in Christ, we can exercise our rightful authority over the power of darkness, both in our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Satan is not fearful of our vested authority as long as we do not exercise it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

*The Meek Man

Meekness is not weakness. It is primarily an internal virtue. Meekness has to do with our spirit; it’s a heart matter. It is something that God sees. We are told Moses was, “…very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” But I am sure many in his day would have questioned this quality hidden within this man’s man. This was the secret of his power; it was not his might, but his meekness that made him an overcomer.

Meekness is a very strong word. It implies force and strength held in check. The word was used of breaking-in horses, with the idea of energy held firmly in hand. It is controlling the forces of one’s character. The meek person will yield to no man, where eternal principles are involved. But he is strong enough to give way when a matter of purely personal advantage is involved.

Meekness can subdue wild, beastly, situations. Remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a wild ass’ colt!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

*Onlookers

If we are not very careful in this game of life, we will spend all our time as spectators rather than participators. Some spend their lives collecting, but never distributing. Like the Dead Sea, it takes, but does not give.  

Each of us has at least one gift, and we are expected to use it, not hide it like the wicked servant. Jesus made this clear to His disciples when He told them, “…freely ye have received, freely give.” There are those with greater gifts than some of us, but our testimony should be to those in need, “…such as I have give I unto thee…”

A long life does not necessarily mean a fruitful one, nor a short one wasted. John the Baptist only had a six month ministry. As someone has so apply said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Heavy Hearts

“I have great heaviness...in my heart.” The apostle who said he was a man “of like passions,” knew what it was like to carry a heavy heart for his kin. We, who are burdened down with concern for our loved ones’ Spiritual condition, will not only find solace from Paul, but other Bible saints.

Godly Esther cried out, “For how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?” Tender-hearted David, speaking of his wayward son, said, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man.” Rahab pleaded, “...show kindness unto my...father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have.” And who can forget the deep anguish of Job, the bereaved father? “Oh that I were as...when my children were about me.”

Our Lord knows what it is to have rebellious children (Isa.1:2); an unfaithful mate, resulting in divorce (Jer.3:8); loved ones who are unbelievers (Jno.7:5); and all the other heartbreaking experiences that may result from family situations. Because of this, we are told we have a High Priest who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

If the Lord has any children who are not exercised with spiritual temptations, I am sure that they are poorly qualified to “speak a word in season to them that are weary.” (John Newton)

                                              

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quotable Quips

 I enjoy both hearing and using little quips. These can fall under several headings, such as sayings, adages, proverbs, aphorisms, truisms, axioms, mottos, clich├ęs, platitudes, etc. They had these in Jesus’ day; they had been passed down from generation to generation.
 But, as in our Lord’s day, many things we cite from our forefathers are also without any scriptural bases. In fact, many quotes thought to be profound, are diametrically opposed to God’s Word. New Age babble falls under this category. And the Fundamentalist and Evangelicals are not exempt.

In Matthew chapter five we find our Lord saying on at least six different occasions, “But I say unto you.”  This being in reference to, “Ye have heard…” It hath been said…”  We are explicitly told we can, “make the Word of God to none effect,” by these traditional sayings received from our fathers.

Job tells us, “Great men are not [always] wise.” Let us not follow those conformists spoken of in Psalms, who took as gospel whatever the previous carnal generation handed down as absolute. “Their posterity approve their sayings.” Always check their principles with God’s precepts

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Purpose of Prayer

“As He was praying…when He ceased,  one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray…And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father…” A dear evangelist friend, now with the Lord, wrote a popular book years ago entitled, “Prayer-Asking and Receiving.” But this is only one of the many aspects, or should I say, bonuses of prayer. Any and all things resulting from our prayers are to be considered minor in comparison to being in the presence of our heavenly Father.

When we pray, if our main goal and chief desire is in wanting something, rather than “Someone,” then we have missed the real purpose of prayer. God first and foremost longs for fellowship with man, His supreme creation. And He is still seeking for communion with His children, just as He did when “walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” those many years ago.

When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, we’re told the purpose was, “that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.” Before anything else, Jesus longed just to be with His chosen. This was not only true in His earthly life, but now in heaven also. In His high priestly prayer in John chapter seventeen, His request to God concerning His own was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” As my wife has often said, “I can understand me wanting to be with Him, but I’ll never understand Him wanting to be with the likes of me.”

Prayer is firstly about relationship, not requests.