Saturday, December 31, 2011

Appreciating the Past

Recently, while waiting in the dentist’s office, I picked up a book entitled, If Dogs Could Talk. As I randomly leafed through its pages I came upon a picture of an old Labrador lying in a prone position, his face resting on his front paws. His eyes were still bright, but you could tell that aged body was worn out. Under the photo were these words, “I may not be able to run anymore, but I’m wise enough to appreciate the days when I could.”

When the aged David was fighting Ishbibenob (one of Goliath’s sons) he waxed faint and would have been slain by this giant had it not been for Abishai rescuing him. To his credit, the old warrior was still willing, but could no longer perform the doing of it. Because of this, “The men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle.” They, as well as David himself, realized he had ceased to function as he once had. But as someone has so aptly said, “We don’t lose our value by losing an ability.”

Though some of us can no longer fly as eagles, or run without weariness, yet, as Abraham of old, we can still walk with God in our sunset years. And as we do, we can think back and remember those blessed days when we did mount up with the wings of an eagle, and ran without tiredness. In this coming year, let us “old dogs” appreciate the days when we could do these things!

Friday, December 30, 2011


“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”…”God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” A father may temporarily depart from his children, for some reason, but this does not mean he has permanently deserted them.

God left Hezekiah for a season, but did not forsake him. The word “leave” carries with it the idea of both permanency and impermanency. Context is the interpreter.

What is one to do when God hides Himself from His child for a time? Oswald Chambers, I believe, has the best answer I’ve read. Although the super-saints will no doubt chafe under his admonition. In his book My Upmost for His Highest, he says “Sometimes we need to live as though there were no God.”

During those intervals in the child of God’s life when there is no inspiration, no touch of God, no answered prayer, and all is drudgery, what is a Christian to do? He’s to do right! It’s always right to do right.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Growing and Knowing

“But the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The emphasis today seems to be on grace at the expense of knowledge. As essential as the grace of God is in our lives, the knowledge of God is just as important. They are Siamese twins; where you find one, you will find the other. If you are to experience “true grace,” you’ll have to know God.

Where we fail is in not discerning between the initial knowing and the intimate knowing of God. Paul illustrates this when he said, “I know whom I have believed”; the initial knowledge. But twenty-five years later his prayer was, “That I may know him...” This has to do with intimate knowledge. A man certainly knows his wife at the altar, but nothing like he does after having lived with her for forty years. This type of knowledge is acquired only by time.

The prophet of old promises, “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.” This is not instantaneous, but continuous. It to this type of person Daniel refers when he records, “...but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” The absence of the knowledge of God can be destructive to the Christian life. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...” If we want to know Him better, then we will need to “Search the scriptures” for they speak of Him.

Many know a lot about God, who know very little of God.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Vertical Not Horizontal

It takes some of us a long time to learn, the direct approach to the issues of life is not the best route. A detour, by way of Deity may seem to take a little longer, but believe me, it’s the safest. And in the long run, the quickest.

For example Jacob found this to be true in dealing with his kin; it worked for David before meeting the giant that confronted him; Nehemiah used this method before asking for help; and even our blessed Lord spent a whole night before God before making some important choices.

It is not the horizontal method, but the vertical way that brings desired results. Always put God between you and your problems. If you do, they will take on the form of small molehills, where once a large mountain stood. Or as The Lord told his servant concerning his insurmountable difficulties, “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbable thou shalt become a plain.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

*Willing To Become

“Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through   His poverty might be rich.”

He became nothing that we might become something! For our sakes He did this. I wonder; what are we willing to become for His sake? The King became a pauper that we paupers might become kings. He left His world where He had everything, to enter our world where He didn’t have anything.

He was born into an impoverished family; had only one suit of clothes; didn’t have a pillow of his own where to lay His blessed head; had to have someone lend Him a penny to give an illustration; and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Yet, no one ever came into this poor Man’s presence desiring His help that didn’t go away a rich man or woman.

Because Jesus “became,” the apostle Paul tells us as a result we have become, "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” The secret then of enriching others’ lives is found in what we’re willing to become. The poor souls of this world can only be lifted out of their spiritual and physical poverty at our expense! What are we willing to become for their sake?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weakest Link

I think the little adage, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” to be a true saying. A fifty foot chain with a defective link is not one you would want to hold you while hanging over a thousand foot precipice.

I’m personally inclined to believe the weakest link in most Christians’ lives today is not Bible reading, but in their prayer life. I was shocked to hear my dear pastor years ago say from the pulpit that the greatest failing in his spiritual life was prayer. Now, after half a century of serving the Lord, I too must ashamedly add my own amen to this truthful confession.

When it comes to the subject of prayerlessness, I find I like to talk about it, preach about it, write about it, but do nothing about it! Jesus said, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” The context of this scripture is importune prayer.

A young preacher who lived briefly with us years ago used to sing the song, “Why Worry When You Can Pray?” But he reversed it to say, “Why Pray When You Can Worry?” Very humorous, but sadly to say, very true.

I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

*The Must of Faith

The writer of Hebrews tells us there is a twofold must to faith, the first being, we must believe God is; and the second, that He rewards them who diligently seek Him. This is the only kind of faith that pleases God. It is imperative then that one believe God exists, and that He answers prayer. Neither of these two musts is too difficult to swear to in health and prosperity but is very difficult in times of sickness or poverty.

God is the eternal “Is.” At any given time He “Is.” As David said, “God is…a very present help in trouble.” During tough times we are tempted so ask, “Where is God now?” The answer is, He is where He has always been; present. Therefore we can trust Him in the dark. He is still in the room with us when the lights go out. This has nothing to do with our feeling, but everything to do with our faith.

You don’t feel truth, you have faith in it. We mourn the loss of feeling, when we should be mourning the loss of faith. Frantic efforts are made to rouse up feeling during those times of eclipse in our lives. But what really is needed is faith that the Son is still there and will shine again upon us.

God is, no matter what our lot. He is here now, amidst all the confusion and questioning. But not so with the reward, it will show up a little further down the road of obedience. And you can be sure it will. Habakkuk puts it this way, “…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

God is Singular

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” No, God said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” The issue was one tree, not every tree.

It is important to realize that Satan brings up many things, while God is working with us about just one thing. Whenever the Lord transacts business with us, it is always on a singular basis, not plural. You know; the one thing at a time philosophy.

God is definite in His dealings with His children. He only covers one area at a time. And it is there that we are to meet Him. Don’t be confused with the many things, but rather look for the one thing. Follow Mary’s example not Martha’s (Lk.10:41-42).

When we do God’s “one thing,” we take care of a lot of things. (RDS)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Servant in the Shadows

The Scottish theologian, Principal Cairns, had the habit of saying, “You first; I’ll follow.” Once, when approaching the platform, a great burst of applause greeted him. He stood aside and let the man behind him go first, and began, himself, to applaud. He never dreamed the applause could be for him.

What a display of divine humility. Was he not truly a personification of the text, “…in lowliness of mind, let each esteem the other better than themselves.” How hard it is to push others into the spotlight, while we remain obscure in the shadows. The book of Job puts it this way, “As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Right Righteousness

The Apostle tells us we are either going about attempting to establish our own righteousness, or we have submitted ourselves unto the righteousness of God. It must be one or the other; there cannot be any part of the one added to the other. It’s like Daniel’s iron and clay, they won’t mix! It’s the perfect righteousness of Christ we are clothed with or the filthy rags of our self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness only clothes the outward, the part man sees, but leaves the inner man naked before God. To cap the cesspool within us, with the white-wash of our own righteousness, will not satisfy a Holy God. For He alone sees the heart and smells the nauseating stench that ascends from this pit of corruption.

It is not difficult to determine which of the two types of righteousness one is robed in. In the story of the publican and the sinner, God gives us an acid test. Those who trust in their own righteousness, says Jesus, despise those who do not come up to their outward standards. But the righteousness which is of God always shows mercy to such people.

God’s imputed inward righteousness always works its way outward; man-made righteousness never gets past the first layer of skin. (R.D.S)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When God is a Stranger

It’s possible to know the Word of God, without knowing the God of the Word. The scribes and Pharisees were a good example. They knew the Scriptures, but the Author was a stranger to them. They were familiar with the “letter,” on the surface, but foreigners to the underlying “Spirit.” They could expound texts, but never experience them. And, worse than all, the Bible, in the life of this type of person, hides the face of God, rather than revealing it.

God never intended for His people to stop short with knowledge of the Bible itself. His intention was that it would lead us on to a full and rich knowledge of HIM. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord,” says the prophet, Hosea.

To stop with the Word, and not go to its Source, is to never really know the Person of God. “That I may know him...,” should be our motive when reading His Word. Don’t settle for knowing about God; you can know God Himself.

You may know about God without comprehending Him. (Puritan Saying)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hoarded Grace

Grace originates from God’s fathomless, infinite, eternal sea of kindness. God does not receive grace; God gives grace, for He is grace. On the other hand, we as believers are all the recipients, and (should be) the distributors of His grace. But I’m afraid many of us who are good at taking it in, do poorly when giving it out. We squirrel it away, as they say.

Paul tells us we should be, “…followers of God, as dear children.” Are not most of us poor examples when it comes to dispensing grace to an undeserving brother or sister in the family of God? We are so fearful someone may think we agree with the recipient’s life-style, or that we are letting up on our own convictions. What insecurity lies in our bosoms!

How we need to emulate David, who when speaking to wretched Mephibosheth said, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness…” Jesus said, “…freely ye have received, freely give." When Jesus took the loaves and gave them to His disciples, we’re told they distributed them to others who were also hungry.

If we’re lacking in grace in our own lives today, we might remember God’s way is,  “…grace for grace.” If we gave more, we might just receive more (“Give, and it shall be given unto you…”). Far too many of us are like the Dead Sea; we take it in, but hold the riches for ourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2011

*Where God Lives"

A mother asked her little girl why she liked to go to her grandparents’ house so much. Her reply was, “Because God lives there.” We hear much preaching about getting God back into our churches, but what is really needed is God in our homes. When God is in the home, you can be sure He will go to church with us.

You can’t hide God being in a home, anymore than if a king visited a humble dwelling place. People love a home where Jesus is. Mark tells us, “...and it was noised that he [Jesus] was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together.” It goes on to say there was no room for all who wanted to enter that home. There are some homes where you can literally sense the presence of God.

Jesus loves to go home with people. He went home with Zacchaeus, Matthew, Simon Peter, as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. And He desires to enter our homes also.

As one comes into our home, there is a plaque on the wall that reads, Jesus Christ is permanent resident in our home. I hope he is in yours also. You may have a house you live in, but it will not be a home until God moves in with you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

*Holidays: Worldly or Wonderful?

The writer of Hebrews tells us the first tabernacle was “worldly.” That is, it was made by man and pitched by man. If you went by the reasoning of some, those who frequented this sanctuary would be, of necessity, worldly Christians. By this definition, all Christians are worldly. We basically wear the same apparel (not fashion), use their form of transportation, live in the same kind of houses, and eat and buy our food at the same places of business.

Worldliness has to do with affections. “Love not the world.” Scriptures teach we are permitted to richly enjoy the things of the world. Enjoy; Yes. Enamored (inflamed with love); No! One old theologian puts it this way, “You cannot find fault with the sharpness of the world’s saw. The problem lies in the fact that it cannot cut straight.”

It’s the world’s inward principles and priorities that we are warned against, not necessarily their outward manner. The wrong lies not in having their things, but their things having us. Paul plainly tells us that it is an accepted and expected fact for married couples to “careth for things of the world,” that they might please one another. We are to use the things of the world, just not abuse them. While our affections are set on things above, we can still enjoy things on the earth.

Holidays can be Holy-days. It all has to do with the affection of the heart.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Silence Is Not Always Golden

“...dumb dogs, that cannot bark.” Some years ago I was in a meeting in Canada. The pastor (who is also a veterinarian) picked me up each evening at my motel. Upon entering the car one night I asked, “And how was your day?” His reply was, as always, “Fine.” But then he added, “I had to take the voice box out of two dogs today. Neighbors were complaining about their barking, so the owners brought them to me for the operation.”

A dog that can bark can warn of approaching danger, as well as scare away the menace, or at least, make him think twice. To take the voice box from a watch dog is to make those he guards easy prey for the enemy.

Isaiah is addressing those in places of leadership who are to be watchmen over God’s heritage. His indictment against them is that they cannot “bark.” No longer did they warn of oncoming danger but, rather, remained silent, allowing God’s innocent sheep to fall prey to ravenous wolves that would devour them without mercy. John the Baptist was a “voice.” His enemies were not satisfied till they had taken his voice box out, and neither will ours be.

Silence isn’t always golden; sometimes it’s just plain yellow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

*When Grace Bleeds

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy…” You will never find mercy by doing meritorious acts; it is only to be found at the throne of God’s grace. No matter where you cut it, grace always bleeds mercy. To work for mercy forfeits it. Mercy is getting less than we deserve, grace is getting more than we deserve.

God’s Mercy is described as: great, rich, manifold, plenteous, abundant, sure, everlasting, tender, high as the heaven, filling the earth, over all His works, and, is His delight. The most wonderful thing about it all is that His Mercies, “… are new every morning.” We have a Divine invitation to come each new day for new mercies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

*Weighed in the Balances

“...a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In the immediate context (2Cor.4:16-18), Paul is weighing present burdens against future glory. Many of us, at present, are weighed down under a load of trials. But there is coming a day when we will be weighed down with “an eternal weight of glory.”

He goes on to tell us all the sufferings now cannot outbalance the glory that’s to come. In comparison, it makes our present tribulations look like a “light affliction,” says this old, seasoned, suffering saint.

We need to daily weigh the momentary and temporal against the eternal. It is important to keep before us eternal values. As A.W. Tozer used to say, “The unseen world is the only real world.” Both Old and New Testament saints looked and longed for it.

The Eskimo of old believed in a place where he would someday sit down and eat his whale blubber in peace, and to the full. The Indian believed in a “happy hunting ground.” But, in contrast, we Christians look for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. And I guarantee you from God’s Holy Writ, we will not be disappointed.

A godly man is a Heavenly man; Heaven is in him before he is in Heaven. (Thomas Watson, Puritan)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

*Short Memories

How like God’s people of old we are. It says of them, on more than one occasion, “They soon forgat his works...”; “They forgat God their Saviour.” How short our memories are. Very little time passes after Him working miraculously on our behalf before we begin again to complain and murmur. We question His goodness; we doubt His promises; and our praise becomes mute.

Is there no cure for this detestable condition? Thank God, there is. I call it “divine arithmetic.” When we add up all our past blessings, the attitude is completely changed. Counting our blessings is an ongoing thing, since there is no end to them. David says, “If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand..” “How great is the sum of them.”

“Count your blessings; name them one by one
Count your blessings; see what God hath done.
Count your blessings; name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what God hath done.”

Counting our blessings is like counting the stars; they’re innumerable. (RDS)

Monday, December 5, 2011

*The Family Reunion

“I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." After Jesus rose, He said to His disciples, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." How wonderful; we are of the same family. We have the same Father and God. And not only that, we also carry the same name—Christian.

God is distinctly a family Man. He instituted the family. God's family is a prototype of all the families on earth. And, like all families, someday we will have a great family reunion. Right now, our family is separated from one another. Some have already gone home to be with the Father; others of us are scattered throughout the earth. But in that coming, eventful day, "They shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God."

And we are guaranteed at that Heavenly gathering, not one family member will be missing—not even the, so called, black sheep of the family.

At our Heavenly family reunion, what a joy it will be to see our Father sitting at the head of the table.

Use or Misuse

"Then said Elijah…give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves…and I the other bullock.” Elijah gave the prophets of Baal first choice of which animal they would sacrifice. Originally, neither bullock was sinful in itself, only after it was used for the god of this world. It was then, like Jeroboam’s calf,
“…this thing became a sin.” On the other hand, Elijah used its very like for the glory of God.

Paul tells us, “…that there is nothing unclean of itself.” Peter needed to learn this, and so do we. What we do with a thing, or its effect upon us, determines its quality. A computer is a good example. In itself, it is neither good nor bad. We decide that by the way we use it. As for a thing’s effect upon us, two men can read the same book and its effect differs in each. One can be enlightened; the other may be enslaved.

The little tract says, “Others can, you may not.” The other side of that is, “You may, and others cannot.” You’re free. Don’t think like a slave.