Wednesday, August 31, 2011

JOY: My Name is in His Book

“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

You can count on one thing never changing, human nature. How like the Disciples we all are. We find more joy in the immediate and temporal, than the future and eternal. Paul, it seems, didn’t fall into this trap (2Cor.4:18). Do we not realize someday all our earthly ministering will be over? The devil and his demons, along with his angels, will be consigned to their own places of torment, and we will be everlastingly with our Father and God.

Our names are indelibly written in the Lambs Book of Life; there is a family record in Heaven. But with Judas and his like (Matt.7:22), their names are “written in the earth” (Jer.17:13). Many there be today who rejoice with God’s people over earthly blessings. They have their names written on the church books, but not in God’s Book!

I am told that He loved me and chose me before the foundation of the world. And that my name was recorded in the Book of Life, before time began. You can use all the theological arguments you want, BUT THAT IS WHAT IT SAY’S! Contrary to the old gospel song, there was not a new name written down in Glory when I was brought into His fold.

In Philippians, Paul mentions his fellowlabourers whose names are in the book of life. And in the very next verse says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.” Don’t you think we need to get with it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

JOY: Surrendered

                                 “Your joy no man taketh from you.”

No one, says our Lord, can take our joy from us. True, but for all practical purposes I believe it can be voluntarily surrendered! At least, on more than one occasion, I’m ashamed to say, I have relinquished my treasured gift. This must deeply pain the heart of God who gave us this precious endowment.

How many of us have given to a loved one something we held dear unto ourselves, only later to see another in possession of it. How prone we are in letting others, even loved ones take our joy. They don’t want it; they just don’t want you to have it. You know, “Misery loves company.”

My dear departed friend, Dr. Tom Malone, was raised by his grandparents. He said he remembered when he was just a boy, his grandfather sitting by the radio listening to President Franklin Roosevelt. On one occasion, F.D.R. was saying he was going to take away all poverty. Dr. Malone said, the old man looked at him and said, “Why son, if he takes that away we won’t have nothing left.” J

My friend, if we let this sad world take our joy from us, we’ll have nothing left!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

JOY: In Dire Circumstance

           “Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.”

This statement came from one of Paul’s prison epistles. Having been beaten, he was thrust into the inner prison, the doors locked, his feet placed in stocks, and a guard with him around the clock. It was midnight; he was tired, and hurting. He was literally drained of all physical strength.
And just what is this old seasoned saint’s advice to Christians when one is imprisoned by such circumstances? When one is shut-in and shut-out from all human aid and resources? He gives us a double-barreled answer, “Rejoice…[and] again I say Rejoice.” He shows us that joy is not something going on round about us, but something going on inside of us.
This seasoned saint always found solace in the sovereignty of God. He believed his Maker was Lord of every circumstance. He was absolutely convinced that nothing could enter the circle of God’s perfect will for his life wherein he lived unless by Divine approval. He may not have been sure everything happening would work for good to those around him, but he was 100% sure they would for him. This is also true of you, dear friend, you who …love God, and are called according to His purpose. What joy this should bring to our hearts!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

JOY: Whence Cometh It?

Paul writes to the brethren at Rome, “Now… God… fill you with all joy and peace… in believing.” And Peter tells the scattered saints in various areas, “yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I read once that an artist should never paint a picture of a forest without showing a way out. It is not sufficient to tell God’s people that they should have joy; they must be shown the way to obtain it. It is not something we work-up, but rather something that God has worked-in. You don’t get joy, you already have it. One may not manifest joy in his or her life, but nonetheless, the seed still lies in the bosom, though dormant.

Joy comes in believing, that is, believing God’s precious promises. Belief is always prerequisite to true Biblical joy. As someone has said, “In seeking “unspeakable joy,” you must start at its fountainhead; “in believing.” Some of us do not realize the seriousness of a life void of joy. Andrew A Bonar says, “ ‘Rejoice!’ is as much a command as ‘Repent.”

I think if we were “filled with all joy” it would push out everything else that is troubling us. If we allow joy to fill every crevice of our fearful hearts, the peace we so long for in this troubled world promises to follow on joys heels.

“It is owing to the weakness of our faith that we are so much wanting in joy and peace.” (Matthew Henry)

Friday, August 26, 2011

JOY: The Missing Link

Upon returning from our time in Ireland many years ago, my wife and I visited friends in several churches. One assembly in particular that had been spiritually alive in the past, seemed at that present time to be missing some important element. When I asked Salle for her opinion as to what it might be, there was not a moment’s hesitation. Her discerning answer was simply, but sadly, “JOY!

Today, I am beginning an extended series of articles on this very important subject. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes in his book, Spiritual Depression, “Unhappy Christians are, to say the least, a poor recommendation for the Christian Faith; and there can be little doubt that the exuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity.”

Joy and its derivatives are found at least two-hundred and one times in the Bible. Jesus was very explicit that He wanted His children to experience the maximum of joy in their Christian life, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full." No Christian will ever be fully satisfied until he or she has found the real, true joy, which is found in Jesus Christ alone. Our spiritual trinkets and toys become stagnant with use over a period of time, unless a genuine joy fills our souls. I agree with C.S. Lewis when he said, “What does not satisfy when we first find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Emulation

One of the meanings for the word emulate is: to imitate a person or thing admired. They say, “Imitation is the truest form of flattery.” This may be true of the one, but certainly not of the impersonator. Emulation is said to be one of the works of the flesh. Therefore, no matter how good the performance, you can never please God.

George MacDonald writes, “No work noble or lastingly good can come of emulation any more than greed: I think the motives are spiritually the same.” He goes on to say, “When a man spends his energy on appearing to have, he is all the time destroying what he has and therein the very means of becoming what he desires to seem. If he gains his end, his success is his punishment.” And so, those who are always trying to be someone else will never know the love and plans God has for them, for they are never home when He calls.

“God help me to live in a morally and honest way, without pretending either to be what I am not or not to be what I am.” (J.I. Packer)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hopeful When All Is Hopeless

“Who against hope believed in hope.” Abraham knew what it was to be without one ray of hope. Not only was this true of himself, but the one person closest to him also shared this hopelessness. Neither could help the other; it was humanly impossible. But the old man “considered not” his or the other’s impotent condition, in bringing about the will of God. But rather, looked to the Omnipotent One, knowing man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.

This was the custom of God’s elect throughout the scriptures. Habakkuk said, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” And what of Job, when stripped of everything life holds dear? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” says the desolate soul. Then there was Paul, who, after all the professional mariners agreed that all hope was gone that they would be saved out of the darkest of storms, said “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

These saints did not believe because of the fact they were hopeless, that their God was helpless! They believed that in any and all adverse situations they found themselves, while doing God’s Will, He would be their Helper. No matter how impossible or hopeless it seemed, He would come to their aid. They knew their hope in God would never be put to shame. And neither will yours, dear one.   

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Unbearable Yoke

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” Had it been some of today’s churches writing to these early Gentile believers, it would have cost a pretty penny in postage to send such a large document. The list of rules and regulations would have taken up at least a hundred pages. And the addendum would have read, “More to follow!”

These primitive saints were simply told to abstain from: 1) pollutions of idols; 2) fornication; and 3) things strangled and blood. Notice, these three things covered their spiritual, moral, and physical lives. And this brief trio of rules is referred to as “…necessary things.” The authors of this little list had come out of a strong legalistic background, and were conscious that a long list of man-made laws would result in a great burden to these believers under Grace. And so Peter says, “Now therefore why…put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

I think the apostle, James’ exhortation to the Jerusalem church would be wise for us to follow today: “Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not those which…are turned to God.”

“I make it a point never put more on a person than they already have.” Joe Henry Hankins

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Only Safe Place

“As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.”

I am somewhat familiar with the prophetical setting of our text, but would like to apply it devotionally if I may. Because of the brevity of our articles I am very limited; it seems I always have to sacrifice one valued thing for another. But I trust never at the other’s expense!
Like most rugged, countrified preachers, Amos was a great illustrator. His stories were reminiscent of the country-life he came from. In our story he tells of a man who outran a lion only to find a bear on his heels. The pursued bests the pursuer when he enters the door of his home safely. Exhausted, he leans his hand against the wall to rest; it is then the serpent bites him.
You might say this is an example of, “Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.” The one place he never expected danger is where it was waiting. Your home may be your castle, but poisonous spiders can make it theirs also (Prov.30:28). There is only one safe place on this earth, and that is constantly abiding in Christ. Or as darling David said to Abiathar, “Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou [shalt be] in safeguard”.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Ministry of the Cup

“A cup of cold water...” Although our ability to do great things for others is limited, almost anyone can give a cup of cold water to a fainting soul. The wise man tells us that its long reach can even extend “...from a far country.”

The deepest ministries can be found in a simple cup of cold water. They’re recorded in Christ’s book, not according to cost but the compassion shown. It is accepted according to “...what a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”

Refreshing cups of cold water kindle hope in God’s “little ones” to go on, who have become weary in the heat of the day. It is within the power of the poorest saint to offer these cups of cold water. The wealthy Laodicean has only lukewarm water to offer.

Don’t worry about your china; a thirsty soul doesn’t care about a chipped cup.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Christians in Costume

“Who art thou...What sayest thou of thyself?” John had some crises in his short life, but an identity crisis was not one of them. He was ever content being a “voice in the wilderness,” pointing others away from himself and to the Lamb of God. God’s recluse was comfortable in his own skin. He had opportunity to have people believe he was more important than he actually was, but this humble man chose to simply be himself (Jno.1:19-29).

Being considered alongside spiritual giants should not be as important to us as being obedient servants. All obedient saints are spiritual, but many who pass off as being “spiritual” are not among the obedient. “To obey is better...” says the old prophet. I’d rather be Balaam’s obedient, dumb donkey than the disobedient prophet on his back who thought himself to be spiritual and in control.

God will speak to you personally, but not if you’re disguised as someone else.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Stronger Than Satan

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”

One morning recently I awoke with one of the greatest thoughts that ever entered my mind since becoming a Christian. I do not say it is original, but it was with me. Since then I have spent the last few days praising God for the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. The illumination I speak of is simply this: SATAN IS DEFENSELESS!

He has no armour with which to fight. This is the reason he flees from the likes of us, when we, by faith, unsheathe God’s Two-edged Sword. His only weapon is mind-control. As the Communists used to claim, “If you can get a man to think your way, you can defeat him.” The battle against evil is won or lost in the “mind field.”

Paul warns us of Satan’s stratagem. He tells us the Deceiver, in his subtlety, beguiles us in order to corrupt our minds as he did mother Eve. His Satanic suggestions are as reasonable and filled with common-sense logic as has ever been presented to a thinking mind. But after one has swallowed all the sweet wine that is in his cup, at the bottom of the chalice is a coiled, venomous viper, ready to strike.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Independent Thinkers

“For who maketh thee to differ from another?” God does not replicate. I am told there is really no such thing as identical twins. From snowflakes to fingerprints—you’ll not find an exact likeness.

Those who dare to be different are a clear and present danger to the tyrannical tough guys who want regimentation in place of liberation. To do this, you must, as with all dictators, do away with independent thinkers. For thought determines actions (Prov. 23:27). To assemble look-alikes, walk-alikes, act-alikes, you must, of necessity, get all to think-alike. Thinkers are threats to those who desire to control and dominate others for their own advantage.

Beware of anyone who would keep you inside the box and outside the veil. You can always spot them: you must read only what they approve, listen to those of their own persuasion, and never question either. There is not a cultic political or religious leader who does not follow this formula. They are all alike in this respect. How monotonous and boring this world would be if all were like the toy soldiers in the Nutcracker Suite.

“The truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth” cannot be found in one small, isolated segment of Christianity.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

*No Void in the Christian's Life

“…If I [Christ] depart, I will send him [Holy Ghost] unto you. There are times in the Christian’s life when it is “expedient” for God to take or remove something or someone we hold dear to us. At such occasions, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Be assured that He will send “another” of equal value to fill its or their place. God never leaves a void in our lives. If he takes or empties, He will replace or fill.

When God begins the removing process in your life, His replacing method is soon to follow. To be sure, whenever there is a loss of house, brethren, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or lands, a truckload to take their place is on the way. Ask Job! If we lose for His sake, He gives back, for our sake. What a God!                   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Troubler

“Deny thyself.” This is not speaking of its existence (only a fool denies that) but not giving it recognition. Like Peter denying Christ. Jesus was present, but the disciple denied any association or camaraderie with Him. It’s the same meaning in our text.

No one will ever give you more trouble than self, that is, “Mr. Ego.” He loves to be cooed, coddled, pampered, and be the main attraction. All of life is to revolve around him. Our whole problem is capitalizing “Self.”

Always be distrustful when things begin to center around self. Even when looking within at our sins, it should take no longer than is necessary to confess and put them under the Blood. There should be no tarrying there. We should be just as cautious when contemplating our inward virtues. They can become vile when doted upon. When the sun is directly overhead, we cast no shadow. Subsequently, when our attention is centered on the Son, the shadow of self will vanish.

When we are self-centered, we cease to be Christ-centered.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pompous Piety

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Beware of the piety that denies the natural life.” He went on to warn, “Beware of passing off as a profound person; God became a Baby.” It is painful for many of us to admit to our flawed humanity. Rather than accept the fact, we have chosen to believe the devils lie, “Ye shall be as gods.” This is where “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are…” comes in.

Throughout the scriptures you find God coming to the aid of those who recognize their natural limitations and inabilities. Whenever we acknowledge our fallen humanity, there is hope. Our supernatural God will help His natural creation once we cease trying to pass ourselves off as miniature deities. I am afraid it is embarrassingly true, if it were possible that there was a vacancy in the Godhead, some are so pompously pious that they would apply for the position.
                                                                                                  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

*Let God Be God

I believe one of the great, but passed-over, statements in the Bible was made by Elijah. Apart from a small remnant of seven thousand, the entire Nation of Israel was steeped in apostasy. The old prophet, standing alone upon Mount Carmel, challenged the powerless people of his day with these words, “Let him be God.”  That is, “Let God be God.” He believed if God was God He must, and would, act like a God.

There were no anemic excuses made by Elijah for his God. His God did not need any well intentioned helper to steady His ark. His God was a “hands off” God. Elijah’s God could take care of himself; He didn’t need puny, humanistic hands to aid Him. For, says He, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof.” God is independent of any and all of His creation. “In the beginning God…”

When dealing with God you’re dealing with a portrait, not a family picture. “When they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Until all the great spiritual people (Moses and Elijah) are out of the picture, you’re refusing to “Let God Be God.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Two-Sided Saint

“What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” In life, it is important to realize that many, if not most, of our choices are determined by what others choose. How Paul acted was dependent upon the Corinthians’ actions. Whether he would comfort or correct—the ball was in their court. They would have to decide what to do with it.

A Scriptural saint is to have two sides to their life. Many are flaunting the fact of their love for the brethren, but are void of the side that seems to be unpleasant. They have difficulty reconciling one with the other. Yet, it is said of God, “As many as I love I chasten.” In our day, we seem to have sacrificed the one at the expense of the other.

Spiritual saints are sometimes saddened because they, of necessity, must reprove another. It is important at such times to realize, you did not choose to do this; the choice was made for you. There is no escaping these unpleasantries from time to time.

The wise man said, “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”  Peter was severely rebuked openly before all his brethren by Paul. Later, Peter refers to him as, “Our beloved brother Paul.” Can we say this of the one God uses to rebuke us; even if He uses Balaam’s dumb ass to do it? (11Peter2:15-16)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Riches Without Sorrow

“...take not thy holy spirit from me.” Most will agree the Holy Spirit’s ministry of abiding and sealing was not the same in the Old Testament as it was after Pentecost. But I want to center our thinking on something with less controversy. The plain teaching of the text, which is not open for argument, is that David was more afraid of losing his spiritual blessings than the physical ones. “Take my child; take my crown; if need be, take my life,” cries David. “But don’t take your spiritual blessings from me.”

David had seen what happens to the man from whom God withholds His spiritual blessings. “But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.” And when this happened, a giant of a man was left both sad and sinful.

It’s not the physical birth we are to give priority to, but our spiritual birth; not a future, physical kingdom, but a present spiritual kingdom. And most certainly it is not the temporal earthly blessings, but the eternal Heavenly blessings that are spiritual. Remember; it’s the spiritual blessings that make one really rich, and He adds no sorrow to them.

The physical is necessary, but the spiritual is crucial.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

All the Time

“Trust in him at all times.” I mentioned some time ago in a previous article how that on my cell phone I have inserted on the screen the inscription, “Trust God.” No matter what time of day or night I may look at it, that very second I am reminded to trust Him.

If you were to ask me one of the main truths I have learned about the Christian life over the years, this would be one at the top of the list. Living for God is a moment by moment trust. This takes care of the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. All we really have, and are promised, is the moment. Once we have learned to accept and enjoy the particular moment in which we are we have found the victory that overcomes the world.

David addresses all people, in all circumstances, at all times, encouraging them to put their confidence in God, no matter what time it is. To trust in anything or anyone else is to lean on a broken reed.

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine
Living with Jesus, a new life divine
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.


Never a trial that He is not there
Never a burden that He doth not bear
Never a sorrow that He doth not share
Moment by moment, I'm under His care.


Never a heartache, and never a groan
Never a teardrop and never a moan
Never a danger but there on the throne
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.


Never a weakness that He doth not feel
Never a sickness that He cannot heal
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal
Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.


Moment by moment I'm kept in His love
Moment by moment I've life from above
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Monday, August 1, 2011

With Him

Father, I will that those which thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” My wife says, “I can understand me wanting to be with Him, but that He desires to be with me, I cannot comprehend.” Nevertheless, it seems to me that Christ will not be content till we are in His arms.

We saw this even when He was on earth. When He chose His disciples, we are told. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” Their ministering for Him came second to their being with Him. It would seem He likes to have those He loves around Him.

Jesus is preeminently a people person. We should love to be in His presence always. And also, we should long to have Him at all the family gatherings of His children. Please pardon the expression but, “He is the Life of the party!”