Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Being Human

Jesus Christ was not only “The Son of God,” but “The Son of Man.” He was not only “God manifest in the flesh,” He was “the Man Christ Jesus.” The necessity for both is obvious. Had He not been God He could not have saved us; had He not been man He could not have sympathized with us. For this reason, we must not divorce His humanity from His Deity. His manhood links Him with the whole human race.

He was like us in every respect, but without sin. Paul puts it this way; He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” By the virgin birth He bypassed the sinful nature, but not human nature. Being born of a woman, He had a body of flesh and bone, and a human ancestry. He possessed all of our frailties in the flesh (except sin). He got tired, hungry, thirsty, and needed sleep. He did not renounce His divine powers, but neither did He His human limitations. For example, while on earth He did not know the time of His second coming.   

Our blessed Lord was born into humanity and was not ashamed of it. Some, consciously or unconsciously, try to deny theirs, by pretending to have a superior spirituality, thus being a notch above us other poor human beings. To deny a fact doesn’t delete it! Paul taught that because of our humanness we cannot always do that which we would like. This is not an excuse; it is a fact. Both Peter and Paul acknowledged their humanity, telling others that they were just men like they, still capable of losing their temper and using a slang word at times.

O child of God, you do not have to convince Him of what you would do, if you could do it, but for the weakness of your flesh. “He knoweth our frame.” Like the gospel song says, “I’m only human, I’m just a man.” Yes, be ashamed of your sins, but never apologize for being human.

 “How thankful I am that when God became man, He did not choose to become   a man of iron nerves; that would not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much.” - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

*Lost in the Crowd

“Thus have they loved to wander.” The people of God did not go astray because of adversity; it was not necessitated by something outside themselves. They wandered because they loved it. They delighted in it. Their very disposition was to do so. The song-writer knew this when he penned, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it/Prone to leave the God I love.”

There is much concern today about the sheep who have wandered from the flock. My burden is for those who are wandering within the flock. They are always looking and longing—wanting something other than the Good Shepherd.

You can stake out a sheep with a hundred yards of rope, with green pastures all around him, yet he will go to the limit of his line, even to the point of choking himself in his attempt to go beyond his shepherd’s care and control. Only love for the Shepherd can cure our love for wandering.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

*Life’s Puzzle

“Why…?” This little three-letter word is used numerous times throughout the Scriptures. So many I didn’t have the patience to count them in my concordance. I’m told that there are countless questions asked in the book of Job alone. Someone has said, “It’s all right to ask God a question, but it is wrong to question Him.”

I realize asking God, “Why?” does not seem the “Spiritual” thing to do, but it is hard for some of us poor souls to deny our humanity. And I, for one, am grateful our Lord understands this, even if the callused super-saints do not.

Many of our sincere and tearful questions, I have concluded, will remain unanswerable and unsolvable until we meet the “Answer Man” face to face. It is then, and only then, that we, like the Queen of Sheba, when asking Solomon her hard questions, was satisfactorily answered. Even so, “A Greater than Solomon,” will resolve all of ours. As the song says, “I’ll ask the reason; He’ll tell me why, when we talk it over in the bye-and-bye.” During the interval between now and then, we’ll just have to rest in the fact that He is a good and merciful God, and that “He doeth all things well.”

Life’s puzzle can only be finished in Heaven; He kept back the final pieces so that He could show us the completed and magnificent picture when we arrive Home!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

*With Him

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I recently turned seventy-eight years of age. The greater part of my life has been spent in living for Him; so according to our Scripture, I would think it appropriate for me to say “to die is gain.” To have lived for Him has been unspeakable joy; but to be with Him will be unending bliss.

My dear, dear, preacher friend, Marvin Clanton, has on his tombstone, “With Christ...far better.” Paul knew to live for Christ was a wonderful thing, but to be with Him surpasses anything this life has to offer, even in the way of Christian service. Will your death be gain? Fill in the blank to find out: “For me to live is______________.”

“Pray that thy last days, and last works may be the best; and that when thou comest to die, thou mayest have nothing else to do but die.”

(Puritan Saying)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Promiced Performance

"And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.”  Those familiar with the background leading up to this statement know the old man, Abraham, was in an impossible situation. But God delights in impossibilities. Apparently, the aged patriarch believed this to be true and was entirely convinced, “He was able…”

When my children were small and I promised them something, I’d perform the doing of it. But there were times because of some unforeseen circumstance, I regretfully could not keep my pledge to them. But God is not under any such human limitations. And yet, as Oswald Chambers so aptly puts it, “We find it easier to trust to worms than to the God of truth.”

If you feel like a garment hanging from a clothesline, tossed to and fro by every wind, be assured it is your human reasoning causing you to be hurled about. Intellectual improbabilities will dissuade one from belief in God’s performance of His promise, every time! We need to follow our father Abraham’s example, “He considered not…but…being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

*The Fountainhead

Anyone with an ounce of practical savvy knows that if you’re to take care of a problem, you must go to its source. For example, many well intentioned Christian counselors tell wayward believers the root of their problem is sin. But this is not so, God has taken care of the sin problem. The sinning saints’ problem is God! Until one returns to “The Fountainhead,” he or she will never find the solution to their dilemma. And so it is with any and all of our difficulties that we face in this life.  

Because one adheres to and recites a creed, “I believe in the one true God,” is not sufficient to deliver them from these sticky situations. The devils hold to that creed (James 2:19). Only a personal relationship with a personal God will accomplish it. Mere intellectualism or even a show of moral piety will not suffice to get us out of our messes. A commercial faith calculates; scriptural faith counts on God.

Oswald Chambers says, “Keep right at the source and you will be blessed.” And dear Amy Carmichael writes, “Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.”          

Saturday, November 12, 2011

*Stoke the Coals

When I was a boy, we had an old coal stove in the front room that heated the rest of the house. My father, each morning, before going to work, would re-stoke the coals. Paul exhorted, “…stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” That is, “stoke” the coals. Get the fires going again. If you don’t, it will go out.

The Old Testament priest would go to the altar every morning, remove the ashes and rekindle the fire with a fresh sacrifice to fuel it. If the priest neglected this, the fire would go out. And so it is with our spiritual lives. The apostle warns, “…neglect not the gift that is in.”

An imitation fireplace in the heart can’t keep you warm. You will get cold without the real thing. Jeremiah says, “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire.” Is that true of us?

Friday, November 11, 2011

*It's Mutual

"Helping together in prayer." There are a number of ways in which we can (and ought) to help each other. But, among them all, there is no greater than prayer. Prayer is to be mutual; it is to be reciprocal between us and our brethren.

The Apostle Paul felt the need of prayer from others. On more than one occasion in his letters you will find him requesting prayer. For example, when writing the saints at Colosse, he assured them that he prayed always for them. But, before closing his correspondence, he asked prayer for himself from them.

Many Christians would have considered these people spiritually inferior to the great apostle; but he didn't. He knew that the weakest saint upon his or her knees became a mighty warrior to help him in his battles.
Jesus told Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." Our Lord refused to abandon him to the devil.

                                                                                

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pick and Choose

God has given to each of us, His blood bought ones, the option to choose whether to take up our cross or not. If we choose the former, it is important to realize He has not granted us the choice in picking what that cross will be made of. It is strictly God’s prerogative as to the material, whether it is to be crude bark or soft velvet. No matter, though they are not identical, they’re alike. Both are instruments of suffering. 

Many have lived under a cloud of guilt feeling they have not suffered as others. This is mainly brought about by “comparing themselves among themselves,” which, says the Apostle Paul, “is not wise.” We must be careful in listening to testimonies and in reading biographies that we do not hold their experiences for a standard for our own lives. All who name the name of Christ will suffer in one form or another, but the form is of God’s own choosing.

The seemingly softer cross may be coveted by some over their rugged one, but if they were to carry the lighter for just one day, they might find it heavier than their own. Sometimes smaller things are much weightier than the larger. Let me illustrate: a missionary’s lot in life, along with his lovely wife and healthy children, may be to sleep on the hard cold ground, in a little hut, in some far off foreign land. As he was lying there, he might have desired to be like a wealthy supporter of his, who is tucked away in a nice warm bed in a beautiful home. But he may have second thoughts after entering the room adjacent his well-to-do friend, when he casts his eyes upon the man’s crippled, down-syndrome child.

Who’s to say? Which of the two is greater, physical anguish or mental torment? One thing is for sure, they both crucify their victims!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

*Devoted: To What or Who?

I have seen dogs more devoted to their masters than some Christians are to Jesus Christ. I know devout people who are devoted, but to their devotions (prayer and Bible reading), not to Christ. Still others are devoted to some cause. They will go so far as to give their bodies to be burned at a stake, or give all their goods to feed the poor. But no matter how sincere or well-intentioned, if Jesus Christ receives not all the glory and praise from such sacrifices, they’re bogus.  Such devotion is, “To The Unknown God.”

Oswald Chambers says, “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus Christ is service for Him.” You’ll remember that before Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His sheep, He made plain his devotion was to be to Him, not service for Him.

The mainspring of our devotion is Jesus Christ and Him only. He is to have all our loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance, and undying love! The Apostle Paul had an adhesive attachment to his Lord; you might go so far as to say, he was glued to Him. Certainly this shows us his overmastering sense of devotion for his “Beloved.” His motto was, “Christ at any cost!” Or as that great manly missionary, C.T. Studd was purported to have said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” AMEN and AMEN!  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Eternal Initiator

A trio of simple meanings for the word initiate is: to start; to begin; to originate. Therefore we see our God is the Eternal Initiator. Every plant that He has not planted will be rooted up. All plans not originating from the head office will never see fruition. Any revelation that does not have Him for its source will lead into darkness. And any work done in or by man, without the preliminary ministry of the Holy Spirit, is doomed before it’s begun.

Had God not opened Lydia’s heart, she would still be in the dark. Elisha prayed God would open his servant’s eyes that he might see the spiritual. Paul told the Ephesians that he had asked the Lord to enlighten their spiritual understanding. All the preaching to the lost to get saved, and pleadings with Christians to live for God, is of no avail if the Holy Spirit does not make the first move.

It’s not that they won’t get it; it’s that they can’t get it! Humanism by-passes the ministry of the Spirit of God, and substitutes it with the abilities of the spirit of man. When you look to man, then you get what man can produce; when you look to God, you get what only God can perform. It is important to always remember, there are things that are impossible with man, but nothing is impossible with God.         

Friday, November 4, 2011

*Growing Pains

“…when I became a man, I put away childish things.” To advance to Spiritual manhood or womanhood, it is necessary for us to leave certain things behind. Like the butterfly leaves its cocoon, never to return, so must mature Christians leave their treasured toys in their toy chests, for another generation of infants to play with.

To ripen into adulthood means relinquishing certain things. Progress and normal development into Spiritual maturity is characterized by a different disposition in every area of our lives. There can be no becoming without a putting away. It’s time for some of us to give up our security blankets. Many have overstayed their appointed time in the sand box. Why be confined to that small area when you have the vast seashore before you to enjoy.

*Concrete Confidence

“What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?” This question was posed by the powerful leader of the Assyrian army to Hezekiah, king of God’s feeble flock.  Rabshakeh’s first and biggest mistake was thinking God’s elect was trusting in a “What,” rather than a Who. The world and carnal Christians put their confidence in things, whereas the Spiritual man or woman places his or hers in God alone.

If the enemy of our souls can shake our confidence in God, he needs no other tool in defeating us. He does this with subtlety by getting us to put our confidence in God’s attributes, rather than the Almighty Himself. Let me illustrate my point. Job did not put his confidence in the goodness of God; for everything happening to him was in stark contradiction to God’s goodness. His confidence was in God Himself, in spite of what He might do. It is this kind of confidence that can cry out in the darkest hour, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”  

Those who have a firm, unbreakable confidence in God are the ones to whom God is a living reality in their lives. Everything and everyone else are in the shadows. They are easily recognized. Oswald Chambers describes them thus: They “bank their faith in God, do the duty that lies nearest and damn the consequences.”   

MISSING: CHARACTER

I am rapidly approaching the octogenarian age, which leaves one with quite a bit of hind-sight. From childhood I have been an avid observer of people and their habits. To say the general population is suffering from a severe lack of character would be an understatement. Surprising as it may seem to some, I distinctly remember the days when the unregenerate possessed admirable basic principles.

But now, sad to say, even professing Christians are in the same anemic condition into which the world has fallen. And I can personally see no hope of a transfusion anywhere in the near future that will restore such to a wholesome life. We are what we have been becoming! Contrary to what many believe, when Paul speaks of, “the last days,” and “latter times,” he is not referring to the condition of the world, but that in the Church.

Just because someone does good in spasmodic spots in his or her life does not prove character. God says to His people, “Your goodness is as a morning cloud.” Character is characterized by consistency and persistency. Nowhere is character brought to a head as in a crisis. A crisis doesn’t groom character, it shows it. As an old preacher used to say, “Reputation is who people think you are; character is who God knows you are.”

“We infect our surroundings with our own personal character.”

(Oswald Chambers)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

*Up Close and Personal

God deals with His people both corporately and personally, both collectively and individually. There are general truths for all to follow, and there are specific ones for each of us according to our person and His plan. As in a large family, there are guidelines laid down for all to observe. But a good father also knows the particular and various needs of each of his children, as well as their potential.

And so it is in the family of God. He does not necessarily deal with one child like He does with another. This is why we should be cautious in reading biographies of great Christians. We must be careful not to emulate their lives in every detail, thinking God will give the same results to us He did to them.

God takes a personal interest in all of His children, like each were an only child. And the blessing of all of this is that He does not deal with us from a distance. It is always up close and personal. “And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.