Saturday, July 30, 2011

Face to Face

“And they shall see his face.” This is one of the greatest utterances to be found in all the Holy Scriptures. We can only approach this text with a sense of awe. Think of it; “We shall see him as he is.” We will be privileged to gaze upon Him in all His splendor and majesty.

We are being prepared even now to someday enter the audience chamber of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords; Whom we will see face to face. When this truth grasps us—when it really gets hold of our hearts, then our lives on this earth will be revolutionized. Once this fact is realized, everything else pales into insignificance. All our problems and troubles fade with the thought of seeing His face.

Take heart, weary pilgrim, the great reception is at hand. We are going to see the King in all His beauty.

One look upon His face will erase a lifetime of heartaches.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Showing up the Devil

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Satan may have given our Lord a temporary bruise to His heel, but, while it was nailed to the Cross, that heel gave a permanent bruise to the devil’s head. This was the historical moment when God put Satan to open shame. God’s grace disgraced the devil.

Though He was crucified through weakness, this day a Stronger One than the strong man would enter his house, bind him, take away his armor wherein he trusted and divide his spoils. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Because of our union with Christ, He has given us power over the power. We need to cease cowering, and come out of our cowardly corners. We are seated with Christ in the Heavenlies, “far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion...” By faith, we need to claim our God-given authority over the power of darkness. For Paul tells us that we have been, “Delivered from… the power of Satan unto God… Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

David didn’t run from Goliath, but toward him, in the mighty name of the Lord.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Center-Piece

In one of his many books, a dispensational Bible teacher says that the theme of the Bible is the Kingdom. How sad that so-called scholarship should be so shallow. The central theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  Theologians refer to it as, “Christocentric.” Eliminate Christ from the two Testaments and the Bible disintegrates into fragments. If He is subtracted you are left with unexplained ceremonies, unachieved purposes, unappeased longings, and unfulfilled prophecies.

In a well-meaning attempt today, I’m sure, many, in trying to bring about a moral change are majoring on the political, psychological, and philosophical aspects of life. But all such attempts apart from Christ are immoral. We are told, “…that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.”

Anything or anyone who is put in His place throws our lives completely off kilter. Nothing in this life is of any value unless directly related to Him. He is to be the center-piece on the mantle of our hearts, all else is to be moved to the sides.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weighed in the Balance

“Let me be weighed in an even balance…” An old preacher once told me that the hardest thing in his Christian life was finding the right balance. After more than a half-century of preaching, I can say “Amen” to that. The believer’s life can be a teeter-totter at times. This is especially true in the realm of prophecy. Good and Godly men differ on this subject. But there is a great danger among them of getting off balance by going to extremes, attempting to prove their particular prophetic position. As a result, those who follow them unquestionably end up on a spiritual see-saw.

If you go too far on one position, you’re entire life goes into trying to clean up this condemned earth. To observe these people, it is apparent that Heaven has lost its sweetness. The second extreme is a group who can only talk or think about, to put it in their terms, “gettin’ out of here.” They cannot enjoy anything on this earth that God has given them. They have turned everything over to the devil. The third group can no longer pray, “Thy kingdom come,” for they believe it’s already here. There is no such thing as a future, glorious reign. Thus they lose their anxious anticipation.

I just wonder if all of them don’t have some element of truth. But, since we are such extremists, we have allowed this to throw us off balance. I may be wrong. All I know is that I am miserable whenever I go to seed on any particular one of these. It seems to me that none of the three is complete in itself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Used Faith

Faith is not re-usable; once you have used it for a particular thing, you’ll need a fresh faith for the next venture. There is nothing any more frustrating than trying to use something a second time that was made to be disposed of after the initial use.

A good Bible illustration of used faith is found in the story of the two disciples walking on the Emmaus road. We’re told; as they walked they were sad. And what was the cause of this? Simply that they were attempting to live on their past faith. Everything was past tense with them, “…we trusted…it had been”; this is not the vocabulary of a vibrant faith.

Faith is always used in the present tense. The writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith…” It’s not the faith you had, but the faith you have at this very moment that counts with God. It is a sad Christian who tries to live on an outdated faith. There is no value at all in an antique faith.  

Faith is at home in the realm of the impossible as well as the realm of the possible. (J. Oswald Sanders)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hated By Proxy

“…the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” Satan hates God, and the only way he could attack Him was by attacking the object of His love. And in this case, it was Christ. But now that Jesus is far removed from this earth, the devil has transferred his anger to God’s beloved children. And so we should not think it’s strange when the Evil One uses his puppets to cause us anguish of soul. You’ll remember, when Saul persecuted the saints, our Lord said it was against Him.

Even carnal Christians, out of the will of God, attempt to hurt us, simply because they are bitter toward God, and we are the only way they think they can get to Him. This is doubly true of a mate, siblings, or our children. The animosity that is shown toward us is, in reality, a desire to slap the face of God. So, don’t take it too personally; you just happen to be the closest at hand.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Laying Hold of God

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended.

The word “apprehend” has a twofold definition, one of which is “arrest, capture, seize.” Christ had laid hold of Paul. Now the Apostle wants it to be mutual. Formalists are self-satisfied and complacent. Their religion consists of some external rite or subscribing to a written creed. Paul’s goal was Christ and Christ alone. Though he admittedly had not, and would not, fully apprehend Christ in this life, he nonetheless kept reaching for Him. And like the little boy shooting B.B.’s at the sun, though he would never hit it, he got closer than those who were not trying at all.

We should never be satisfied with our spiritual attainments; we ought to have a sanctified dissatisfaction. There should always be an ongoing progress. Paul disclaimed any kind of moral or spiritual perfection; but he continued striving.
People tell us we need to get a grip on ourselves, but actually we need to get a grip on God! If we are Christians, God has hold of us. But when we lay hold of Him, like Jacob of old, we become a prince with God.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Want To or Ought To

“ ought always to pray...” Notice our Lord did not say, “want to,” but, “ought to.” Though the superficially spiritual person will reject it, humble, honest saints will be the first to admit prayer can be irksome at times. Legion are the excuses we make for omitting it, all because we do not feel like praying. There is truth in the gospel song that says, “When you don’t feel like praying, pray.”

If you don’t think prayer works, stop doing it. But to do so will be to your own detriment. It is well to remember that some of our, so-called, worst times in prayer are probably our best. When feelings stop at the door, faith can enter the closet. And that is what pleases God.

The end of feelings is the beginning of faith.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grace for the Disgraced

"He was…full of grace…And of his fullness have all we received…" It has been said, "Justice is getting what you deserve; mercy is getting less than you deserve; and grace is getting more than you deserve. Christ was full of grace, and we have received of that fullness. There is no area in the Christian life when a person displays more Christ-likeness than when he or she is showing grace towards the fallen. One who is controlled by the Spirit of Christ never says of another's misfortune, "They got what they deserved."

For years, I was associated with a movement that, to their credit, manifested abundant grace toward the vilest. But it stopped with the salvation of the sinner. It seemed grace ran dry when it came to manifesting it to the saint. Both in the homes, churches, and workplaces, there was only stringent rules and regulations to be kept. And there was no hope for one who came short in any one of these areas. And so, as a result of bringing personal embarrassment upon these lofty ones, who thought themselves exempt from the poor publican’s dilemma, the sinning saint received, not loving, tender grace, but a long time grudge.

The Christian cannot be full of grace, and, at the same time, full of self.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Unskilled Laborer

God has no unskilled laborers. Each of us in the Body of Christ has some skill to offer in the building up of His Kingdom. The problem comes when we try to minister in an area where we are unskilled. How would you like to go to an expensive restaurant, known for its exquisite food in the past, only to find they have just hired a grease mechanic for their chief-chef, all because, says the proprietor, he’s a good man with a good heart, and it has always been his desire to be a chef?

On the other hand, what if this coming Lord’s Day, at the beginning of the service, I seated myself at our church’s piano and attempted to play some Christian classic, all because I’ve always loved the piano and wanted to be able to play it? Scores of good Christians, with honest and good intentions, are attempting to do things to glorify God, but who have absolutely no skills in those particular areas. And if that were not bad enough, loved one’s and friends encourage them to do so. How many have had to suffer through sermons and songs, not to mention those blessed little children glued to their chairs, who all had to endure the unqualified mechanic trying to bake a cherry pie?

These fantasies that we can do certain things come from not being content with who we are and what we can do. It would be wise for us to look up the word “skill” and its derivatives, in the building of, and ministering in, the Old Testament temple.  

“Jack-of-all-trades, but master of none” was originally “master-of-one.” Let us master one, and let Jack worry about the others.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Stranger Within

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” What a change it brings in a believer’s life when once they realize that they have not only a Divine Tenant living within their house of clay, but the Landlord, Himself. In spite of multitudes of Christians reciting the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday (“I believe in the Holy Ghost”), and fundamental and evangelical preachers making reference to Him from time to time, I believe few of God’s children are conscious of His blessed indwelling.

He is a Person. He can be grieved, lied to, and sinned against. He is a Teacher, Guide, and Comforter. The Scriptures speak of “the love of the Spirit,” yet we continue to spurn this One who longs to love us. How sad it must be to live within a house you bought and paid for, and your presence and rights are never recognized. The God Who indwelt the tabernacle, filled the temple, and lived in His Son, has taken up residence in us. How can we persist living the way some of us are?

Though God indwells all Christians, to many of them, He’s the Stranger within.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Best Move

In giving an illustration our pastor said that in football the players are taught the most important move is to “fall forward.” Not backward toward your opponent’s goal, but forward toward yours. That way you don’t lose ground; plus, it can put you closer to your goal. I’ve seen many players score a touchdown using this method.

In the game of life, we are going to take some hard hits and be knocked down. When this happens we need to make sure we fall forward. Let us keep our eyes on the goal that is set before us. Don’t let Satan turn you around and point you toward his.

If you have been brought low recently, remember you’re still in the game and have some plays left. So get up, grab the ball and run. The goal is closer than any of us think.    

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Isolated Texts

Sometime back I read an article in a popular evangelical magazine that told of a well-known personality who built his entire ministry on one, isolated passage in the Old Testament about Jabez. This poor man’s life and ministry, we are told, has now crumbled, along with many of his followers. He reportedly has said that the Jabez-type prayer didn’t work.

In almost fifty years of ministering, I have seen many fall into this tempting trap. Some have built an entire method of interpreting the Bible on 2 Timothy 2:15. Others teach the main goal of a Christian is “soul-winning,” based on Proverbs 11:30. The deeper life advocates use Galatians 2:20; and a popular prophetic group use a small, isolated portion of First Thessalonians four to convince their followers of the rightness of their position.

At the time when Jesus walked this earth, there was no New Testament, only the Old. But He built His entire life and ministry on the whole of it, not on an isolated text or small portion. We’d do well to follow His example, including, of course, the New Testament. Beware of anyone who uses an only text or an isolated portion to prove his or her point. If there is a thread of truth it will always be connected to the whole “spool.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

*Granny Had No Faults

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted…” My grandmother, on my father’s side, died while I was still an infant. My other granny, I knew, however. I loved to go to her house, as a boy. The table was always set in case someone dropped in unexpectedly. And you knew there was tantalizing food under the extra tablecloth that was used to cover it. It only needed to be warmed up a little.

When my granny unbraided her hair, it would reach the floor as she sat in her rocker and combed it, after a washing. Her apron, I found, was a part of her daily dress. She had a lot of Cherokee blood in her, which was evident by her dark complexion and high cheekbones. Grandma Morrison was an old-time Primitive Baptist. I can remember her rocking and reading her Bible as she puffed on her corncob pipe and chewed on a twist of tobacco. And who could forget her old spittoon made from an empty Maxwell House coffee can? She was one of the kindest, most tender-hearted people I have ever known. And when I remember that, the pipe and the chew don't seem to be that important to me. But, of course, you may feel differently about people like that.

It’s hard to find fault with someone who loves you unconditionally.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

*Imposing Your Opposing View

God’s, “Thou shalt’s” and “Shalt not’s” are not open for discussion. They’re for all to observe and obey. But those many grey areas such as found in Romans chapter fourteen are individual, and are not to be imposed on everyone.

C.S. Lewis writes, “One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sort of things for special reasons…but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”

I fear far too many of us are like Saul; who made a personal oath to the Lord, and then expected everyone else to do the same. And he was ready to condemn any and all who did not follow him, even godly Jonathan. People such as this go through life frustrated because others will not fall into the ranks of their strict regimentation. They can’t imagine anyone being a good and godly Christian who does not march to their drumbeat!    

Monday, July 11, 2011

We Came From a Good Root

John the Beloved, speaking of our Lord in the book of Revelation, tells us He was, “the Root of David.” This carries with it a double application. As to His humanity, Jesus had His roots in David; but as to His Deity, He was the Root of David. This is what baffled the Pharisees when Jesus told them He was both the Son of David, as well as David’s Lord.

Speaking of someone’s lineage, we say he or she had good roots. Well, this could certainly be said of God’s shepherd boy. His roots went back past his father, Jesse, to the eternal Son of God. Since Jesus was the root of David, we now understand how this man of clay could not be plucked up and cast aside by the devil, as some were in the story of the seed and the sower. David had an eternal root.

And so it is with God’s elect. Every angelic, or celestial, being had a time for their beginning. But we were chosen in Him in eternity. No created being that was created in time or eternity can go back as far as God Himself. And only in Him can you find my roots. Therefore, let the storms of life come—let the saw of man bring me down to the ground—but no one will ever destroy my root. This tree shall always grow again.

“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)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

*Faith Without Frills

“Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” When this nobleman left his house the day previous, his son was at the point of death. Now returning with nothing to undergird him save his foundational faith in Jesus’ word, he hears the joyous news from the servants who came to meet him, “thy son liveth.” And upon inquiry, he was told the child was healed the exact hour in which Jesus had spoken and he had believed. During those long hours in between, the man lived by what I like to refer to as, “raw faith.”

I am not a prophet, but I am an observer of mankind. And I have witnessed these last twenty-five years or so, a desire among many of God’s people for a, “feel good faith.” But God’s order is, and always has been, Fact, Faith, and Feeling. My pastor illustrated the three walking steadily on a fence post, each following the other. But once faith looked back at feeling, he fell off. It is faith, then feeling. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, Feeling is what you fall over on the road of obedience.” Abraham, I think, didn’t “feel” some great emotion as he was taking Isaac to sacrifice him. Faith is without frills. Faith doesn’t wear lace, its denim durable. Faith, says Paul, “Fights.” It is only this kind of “rare” faith that pleases God. The kind that bleeds!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Old and the New

I heard an old camp-meeting preacher say once, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?” “In the beginning God created…” God, then, predates the beginning. And when we read, “…time shall be no more,” this does not void the eternal existence of God in the eons to come. He is, was, and will be, everlastingly God. He’s never weary, and He never sleeps. Therefore, we might say, He’s up on everything. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

God is not awestruck with the antique, nor is He overly impressed with the contemporary. God is both old-fashioned and modern day. In Heaven, we’re told, they sing the old song of Moses, but, along with it, they sing a new song. The Jews liked the old ways and doggedly clung to them. This resulted in their rejecting “…a new and living way,” which God provided. All that’s new is not necessarily bad; and all that’s old is not to be thought of as all good.

There is nothing new or old with God. One of my grandsons, Joseph, who sings with a Southern Gospel group, wrote and sings a song: “He’s Already Been There.” God is the only One of whom it can truly be said, “Been there; done that!”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dear Readers and Supporters,

Just a brief note to update you on a few things many have asked about and some points of interest you might want to pray concerning.

As to my health, I will quote my wife when she’s asked about it, “It seems God gives him a blood transfusion each new day.” I can truly say that the scripture God gave me at the first to lay upon your hearts has come to pass, “For I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” Please continue to remember me before the Mercy Seat.

My wife, Salle, is getting close to putting out her first book. I’ll keep you informed. I will no doubt follow pursuit as soon as she has completed hers, and has time to help me with mine.

Our 50th wedding anniversary is coming up October 14th, (along with our birthdays on the 5th and 15th). I’d like to do something special, but I just don’t know, with the economy being what it is. Pray God will give wisdom and direct me. It is hard to believe it has been fifty years for us, and even harder to realize that in two short years I’ll be eighty.

Salle will be flying to Louisiana later this month to be with our grandson, Timothy, and his wife, Lauren, who are expecting their first, a little girl, named Kiley Rae. It will be our fifth great-grandchild! I promised Salle she could be at the birth of each great-grandchild, if at all possible. Great-Grandmas like this, you know.

His and Your Debtor,

Brother Sandlin

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

David's Dilemma...Ours

“Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled...and there he died before God.” The ark was a symbol of the presence of God. It had been absent for over seventy-five years from the Divine sanctuary at Shiloh. Its rightful place was at Jerusalem in the center of the sanctuary. David knew if he could get God back in His rightful place the people would get their minds off their petty differences and divisions, and center their attention once again on the Lord.

The first attempt to bring the ark back is a good illustration of doing the right thing in the wrong way. David had not sought the mind of the Lord as at other times, and this always ends in tragedy. He knew how God had told Moses the ark was to be carried. Evidently, he had forgotten. The designated Levitical priests were to carry it on their shoulders. They were never to touch it, but carry it by the staves on the sides of the ark. Instead, they emulated the world, and carried it on a “new cart,” not following God’s pattern given on Sinai.

When the oxen stumbled, Uzza presumptuously put forth his hand to steady the ark, as though God’s throne needed steadying. His good intentions brought about his death. We can become overly familiar with God. When this happens, we get it in our heads that we can get away with things others can’t. Uzza may have thought he was a pet, but God used him as a pattern.

It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.
                                    (Dr. Bob Jones)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heavenly Patriotism First

For some years now I have been concerned with what I would describe as the politicization of Christianity. I’m not speaking of employment with, but entanglement in the political process (2 Tim.2:4a). With some Christians and ministers, all they talk about, preach about, think about, or write about is politics. It can be found in segments of every major movement in Christianity.

I agree with C.S. Lewis when he writes, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next…all left their mark on earth precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither…we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.”

He goes on to say in another place, “He who converts his neighbor has performed the most practical Christian-political act of all.” To which I add my, Amen and Amen!

“The problem with the “Religious Right” is not their position, but their posture. They more readily stand than knell.” (R.D.S.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Playing Church

“And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.”

As children have always done, these were “play acting,” no doubt emulating what they had seen when with their parents. While accompanying Mother and Father at festivities, as well as funerals, they would have observed both jubilation at the one and sorry at the other of these events. They now wanted their little friends to enter into the enactment of these performances with them, of which it seems some, refused to do.

As a pastor for many years, I was able to observe on occasions the children of our people “playing church” in the church after the main services. Some were quite good. They had it all down pat, the singing, offering, prayer, and the preaching, along with a hearty “Amen,” once in a while. The one main element missing was the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost does not anoint pretenders!

We are told in the gospels, “The power of the Spirit was present.” If this is not the case in your church and ministry, then you are “Like unto children sitting in the market place.”  Play your pretend games, if you will, that is your choice, but don’t get upset at those among us who refuse to “play act” with you.

“I never entered the pulpit when I did not think I’d die if God did not bless.” Bob Jones Sr.