Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Real Enemy

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

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

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

Born Unto Troubles

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

*When God Speaks

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

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

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

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

When a father speaks directly to one of his children,

the choice to obey is not open for discussion with

the other brothers or sisters.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No, Never Alone

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say What You Mean/Mean What You Say

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Loaded Down

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What God Wants

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 21, 2011

*Taking God Seriously

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fighting God

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

*The God of Who?

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Satan’s Summit

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

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

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

Cowardly Christians are jewels in Satan’s crown.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Right Theology Wrong Thinking

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

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

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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Divisions Over Diversities

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Simple Life/Don’t Lose It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pay Up

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Great Escape

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Around the Clock Care

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Understanding His Will

“Good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” If it’s good, then we shouldn’t complain about it. If it’s acceptable, why would we reject it? And if it’s perfect, there is no improving on it. The will of God includes all of life, not a part of it.

Jesus said, “I delight to do thy will O God.” That included the Cross with its associated sufferings as well as enjoying a meal with His friend Lazarus and his two sisters. Our Lord went to the Cross with a song of acceptance upon His lips. He always accepted whatever God appointed.

The will of God has a companion that goes everywhere it goes...known by the name of Grace.


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Devil Deals to David

“And Satan...provoked David.” David’s sin with Bathsheba was a sin of the flesh, but in numbering the people, a sin of the spirit. By this proud act (consciously or unconsciously), David was ascribing to himself might, power, strength and greatness. Attributes that belong to God alone. God promised Abraham the people would be so great they could not be numbered. So why bother?

Numbering the people was not the real issue; doing it without orders from God was. It was an independent act that caused Lucifer’s fall, and this is what he successfully tempted Eve to do. But when he came to the Lord Jesus, he failed miserably. For this blessed One refused to take a breath without God’s permission.

When we attempt to flex our spiritual muscle before those around us by showing our spiritual superiority, you can be sure Satan is in the shadows egging us on. When the devil deals the cards, it’s always from the bottom.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Landlord

I was reading a quote some time ago by Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian of the past. He said, “There is not a square inch of territory in the whole universe over which Christ does not say, ‘This is mine.’”

The Bible says of us who are Christians that we are not our own. Jesus Christ bought and paid for us with His own life, from the slave market of sin. He has every right to say of one of His blood-bought lambs, “He or she is mine.”

I, for one, am exceedingly happy that He owns me for His own. Many need to own up to His ownership in their lives. This is not done by talk but by walk. “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say.” It’s good to remember, we are only tenants. “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” He is the “Landlord.” We are to pay Him on a regular basis what is due Him. For many, rent is way past due, and they need to “Pay…that thou owest.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Snobbery

One dictionary’s definition of a snob is, “one who distains supposed inferiors.” Sounds like the Pharisees of the Bible to me. They always looked down on less fortunate people (Lk.18:9), and those who didn’t adhere to their man-made standards (Ro.14:3). Shameful as it is to say, both of these are generally found inside the House of God, not without.

You can always spot these highbrow elitists; they are completely exclusive in nature. Their conceit extends to Heaven itself, they actually believe they will have a special place at God’s heavenly table, and others in the body of Christ will be excluded. Such stuffed shirt braggarts, with their egotistical spirits, are in for a big surprise. Our Carpenter went ahead so He could make chairs for all His children at the supper table.

Paul was “…all things to all men.” And our blessed Lord was a friend to all. There was not an exclusive bone in eithers body. Both would condescend to men of low estate. The best and truest preacher friend I ever had, who is now with his Lord, left a lasting imprint upon my life in this respect. No man was beneath him!