Saturday, December 15, 2012

Limping Along

My wife mentioned to me a statement she read recently. “Don’t follow anyone unless they limp.” She stated the writer went on to say such a person would no doubt be familiar with pain. To which she added, “They would also be easy to keep up with.”

We see both of the above truths wrought out in the life of Jacob. I read that the place where God wounded Jacob, causing him to limp the rest of his days, was in an area of the body which would produce excruciating pain. Also, he told his brother Esau, “I will lead on softly.” The context showing those following him could stay up with him.
Until we experience a “Divine” wounding, we are of little use to ourselves or others. God must touch that place of strength in our lives before we will ever learn to lean on Him. Once Christ becomes our crutch, our walk becomes acceptable with God. And others will long to follow such a cripple.

The lame sit at the Kings table. Ask Mephibosheth!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Measure of a Man

“Now when he had made an end of measuring the inner house, he brought me forth toward the gate… and measured it round about.”

Whenever God measures the worth of a person, man or woman, He starts with the inner chamber of their earthly house. God always works from the inside out; the Pharisees, from the outside in. But they never seem to arrive at the core. Their outward lives are like a beautiful casket, but inside is a decayed life.

The people in Saul’s day saw him as a giant of a man, but God saw only a dwarf in a huge body. On the other hand, when observing David, with his small stature (he was swallowed up in Saul’s armour), who would have believed a man of such historic size, indwelt that house of clay. Many a common man and woman will never measure up to the greats of this world, but oh, the treasure they have within!
Jesus knows what it is like to be seen only as a “carpenter’s son,” while all the time God Almighty was dwelling in His earthly house!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In God's Own Good Time

I think of time as a parenthesis in God’s eternal sentence. Although He created time, He is not a product of it, “In the beginning God…” He was there before it began. He is outside of time, yet He enters it at will. He comes and goes as He pleases. And you can be sure whenever He does show up, you’ll know He has been there. He always leaves His calling card.

One example of God stepping out of eternity into time was when He brought His Son into the world. We are told, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.” Not a day too soon, or a day late, GOD IS ALWAYS ON TIME. You can set your watch by Him. If He hasn’t shown up yet in your particular case, the problem, no doubt, is that your clock is fast!

“They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Plurality of God's Mercy

Paul uses God’s multiplied mercies in pleading with the Lord’s people to give Him that one thing in life most precious to them: their bodies. Just the common everyday mercies of God, not to mention those special times when we are in dire need of it, should be incentive enough to present to Him our most cherished possession. I can imagine the old “bond slave” saying to us yet, “I beg you, for mercy’s sake.”

We read of God’s mercies being great, rich, manifold, plenteous, abundant, sure, everlasting, tender, high as the heaven, filling the earth, and new every morning. Bunyan said, “All the flowers in God’s garden are double.” And so it is with His mercy, there is not a single mercy. They are found in clusters. Is it any wonder then that David tells us, “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever.”

O, dear trembling child of God, fear not to approach His throne of mercy. As the Mercy Seat of old, it is still sprinkled with blood; but now, that of His own blessed Son, thereby giving us boldness to enter in. There is nothing little about our God or His mercy. It’s as big as He is. It can’t be measured! Let us learn then to no longer linger there, BUT TO LIVE THERE. Let we, who are “vessels of mercy,” pitch our tents at the foot of His mercy seat.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Breaking Our God's Heart

Jesus said to the man sick of the palsy, “Thy sins be forgiven thee… go thy way.” I find in dealing with people, as well as in my own life, that the problem is not asking God’s forgiveness, but believing He has and going our way. I like to stand around, once I’m back on my feet, and mull it over in my mind. You know, make sure I didn’t leave any “t’s” uncrossed, or “i’s” undotted.

I’m sure it brings great sorrow to God’s loving heart, when we doubt His abundant and merciful forgiveness. We need to learn, upon a simple childlike confession, to “go our way.” Unquestioningly! I call your attention to Joseph’s brothers. After he had forgiven them earlier for the wrong they did him, they asked forgiveness of him again for the same injury. Their plea was, “we pray thee, forgive…” Then we read, “And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.”
Have you asked God to forgive you? Then believe Him and go your way. Don’t break His precious heart by asking Him again.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

He Said...We Say...

“For He hath said…So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear…”

Contrary to some who think of Hebrews as a book that contains only dire warnings, they have neglected to see, it is also one of the greatest books in the Bible on a Christian’s confidence and assurance. Warnings, yes; fearfulness, yes; but only to those who neglect the Word of God. But for those who feed upon it, blessed assurance and a settled confidence.

The boldness to say God is my helper, and that you do not fear, is based on the fact, “He hath said.” Boldness comes from His authoritative Word. Therefore, to neglect the Word is to lack boldness. For example, one will never come before His throne boldly without the assuring Word to tell us we can do so. Rather we’ll come with fear and trembling.

Dear child of God, at this very moment you can be as bold before God as His Word permits you to be! If we can truthfully say, “He hath said..." then “we may boldly say...”


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christians in Costumes

In Luke’s gospel, we’re told some men came to Jesus, and that they “feigned” themselves just men. Since I strongly believe the Word of God (K.J.V. 1611) is its own interpreter, we will let it tell us the meaning of the word “feign.” In 1Kings chapter 14, by comparing verse 6 with verse 2, you will find it is defined as “disguise.” In other words, acting like someone you’re not. I find it’s a difficult thing for mankind, in general, to be himself. I know little to nothing about psychology, and so I will not venture down that path. But, I do profess to know a little bit about human nature.

I find not only God, but people also are very forgiving of sins, faults, and shortcomings in an individual’s life. Those who profess to be no other than what they are. But our fellow man, as well as God, finds it a real problem with “shams.” One of David’s secrets in “wiggling” himself into the heart of God was the fact that David was just plain David. In Psalm 17, he asks God, “give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” David didn’t act out his life before his God in the character of another. He, like Paul, could say, “I am what I am.”
We all need to remember, when God sees fit to display the supernatural, it is always on something that is natural, never on the unnatural.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

*Roses and Whiskey Bottles

Years ago, I heard the following story told by a preacher who ran a skid-row mission in Houston, Texas. It seems the place where he met with his little flock of derelicts was very dull and drab, which only added to the dreariness of these poor souls. And so, attempting to brighten up the place, he took a beautiful, fragrant, red rose; put it in a bottle, then set it on a table by the door they entered. He said there was not a harlot, drunkard, or drug addict, which did not comment on it. It seemed to uplift each spirit, by its appearance. He said, not one noticed the old, discarded whiskey bottle he had filled with water to put it in.

Paul mentions in the book of Colossians the mystery of “Christ in you.” And he told the Corinthian believers that they had this “treasure in earthen vessels.” What a blessing to think God chose this old sinful worthless crockpot to pour the water of life into, then added that lovely, fragrant, exquisite Rose of Sharon!”  

I say “Amen” to my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, when he asks the question, “Do you love to see Christ’s picture in a saint, though hung in never so poor a frame?”

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Power of One

In the book of Ezekiel, there’s a story of how God looked for just one man that He might spare His judgment upon His people. We are told He sought him among the priests, the princes, the prophets ,and finally, the people. Then falls four of the saddest words recorded in the scriptures from God’s lips, “but I found none.”   

One man, one woman, one youth, one preacher, one church—this has always been God’s way. You’ll be hard pressed to find God with the majority, or going along with popular opinion. It seems, He likes the “underdog.” His only condition for entering that cold, lifeless church at Laodicea was, “If any man will open the door.”

The great problem of today is, no one wants to go it alone! It is amazing what one single individual can accomplish who has only God on their side. Abraham, Elijah, Ruth, Moses, Noah, Esther, Paul, and Job, prove this out. One man and God can make a difference; Jesus did.

I am only one, but I am one
I can't do everything, but I can do something;
And that I can do, I ought to do
And what I ought to do by the grace of God I shall do.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

God Answers Prayer

“Moses and Aaron… and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.”

God answers prayer! Sometimes immediately, as in Hezekiah’s healing; at other times after a delay, like Daniel’s experienced; and on some occasions, the answer is different from our desire, Paul being the example.

But no matter what the situation, I find God’s answer to be always above and beyond my wildest expectation (Eph.3:20 cp. Jer. 33:3). I think Mary and those praying for Peter’s deliverance would agree with me (Acts 12:1-17).

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayers.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late,
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.


~Hickok~

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Emptiness of a Christ-less Life

You would think an article by this title need only be written exclusively to the unregenerate. But shamefully, I must confess, it is a proven fact this is also true of many Christians. But whether saved or lost, there’s one telling characteristic in each instance of their emptiness, an insatiable need to fill a mysterious void in their lives.

People who possess this kind of vacuum, generally sense a main ingredient is missing, which they believe can alone make up the whole of their life. Therefore, they’re constantly looking for something or someone to fill this hollowness. But find to their dismay, no matter what it is, it is never enough; satisfaction is only for a brief time. They’re still left wanting. Their lives are like a vacant house. Have you noticed there is sadness, a certain depression, about an empty house; it was built to be inhabited.

God created man that He might fill every aspect of his life, but the ingrate kicked (so to speak) the owner out of his own house. Since then, mankind has been walking through dry places seeking fulfillment, but finding none. Sometimes ending up seven times worse than when he began. Jesus Christ came into this world and emptied Himself, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. If we will but relinquish what we believe is our right to His property, and place it once again back into His hands, as Stuart Hamblen’s song goes, He will fill “This Old House.” No matter in what condition we’ve let it become!

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Hanger-On

I’ve read the Spartan’s of old, after conquering cities around them, would leave one close by. The purpose was, said they, was to keep them always alert and vigilant. In the book of Judges we find God left certain nations to prove His people. David seems to be calling attention to this in Psalm 59:11, where he asks the Lord, referring to his enemies, “Slay them not, lest my people forget.”

We can apply this, I believe, to a Christian’s individual life. The scriptures seem to bear out the fact this is also true of us. After one’s conversion, God leaves something of our old life that stays with us throughout our pilgrimage here on earth. Rather than being a hindrance, as most of us believe, actually, it’s a great help. It is the thing that keeps us humble and dependent upon Him; a constant reminder of the weakness of our flesh. Pray and plead all you want for its removal, but like Paul, who prayed fourteen years for God to take away his thorn; you will also get an emphatic “No.”
The very thing we have been praying against is the thing that has made us (if we are of any use at all) what we are today. The old Puritan had it right we he said, “Paul’s thorn was the tack that held back the veil, so he could see the face of Jesus more clearly.”

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities…for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Great Three-in-One

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all. Amen.”

What a blessed benediction! How we all need the grace that Jesus brings, the love that God gives, and communion we may have with the Holy Ghost. Had we only one Scripture to prove the Trinity, the above would more than suffice.

The word “Godhead” is mentioned three times in the New Testament. I confess I do not understand the great Three-in-One; it’s a mystery, but I believe it with all my soul. Some Christians seem to be uncomfortable when speaking of the ministry of a particular Person of the Godhead, as if it would grieve the other Two. But, my friend, there is no jealousy in the Godhead.

How we need the Godhead in our everyday life. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

1) Let us surrender first place to Jesus Christ. Whenever He crosses our path, let us remember, there is always a yield sign nearby.

2) May we put God  between us and every problem that confronts us. Let’s magnify Him, not the problem. May the world never be able to say of us, “Their God is too small.”
3) Also, may we have a conscious fellowship with the Holy Ghost. Let us allow Him to be our Helper in all our infirmities. He is the Christian’s crutch; lean on Him, He will sustain us in every situation.

O Blessed Trinity!
O Unbegotten Father! Give us tears
To quench our love, to calm our fears.

Bright Son! Who art the Father’s mind displayed,
Thou art begotten and not made.

Coequal Spirit! Wondrous Paraclete!
By thee the Godhead is complete.

Holy Trinity!
Blessed equal Three,
One God, we praise Thee.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Adjustable Wrenches

Every plumber carries a good adjustable wrench in his tool box. This one instrument saves him time, energy, and I’m sure, much frustration.

If our souls are not to be in constant vexation, then we must learn to adjust to life’s ceaseless changes. For better or for worse, either way, we need to adapt. If it be for the worse, then roll with the punches; if it’s better, enjoy it while we can.

Some situations are slow and transitional, others sudden, and can bring both surprise and shock. The first seems to sneak up on us unaware, while the second catches us unprepared. And, as I said, this is true of both blessings and calamity.

Paul tells us he had learned to be full and to suffer need. He was content with any hand life dealt him, knowing God was the disposer thereof. It is important to realize, no matter who serves the meal to us and of what it consists, God is the chef. Job knew this. “Shall we not receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”  As my dear old granny used to say, “It will all work out in the end.” By the way, bet you she had been reading her Bible!

Friday, November 9, 2012

In the Same Boat

I think it’s about time some out there in la-la land wakeup to the fact that we are all in the same boat. To listen to the complaints of these elitist, you’d think they were the only ones who ever experienced tough times. Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Narcissist, we too, are  part of a fallen and hurting humanity.

I like the way witty G.K. Chesterton puts it, “Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all sea sick.” Have you never read texts that speak of “common temptations,” “like passions,” and “one blood?” As my younger daughter used to say, when a child, “We’re same-alikes.”

Same can mean in likeness, yet not necessarily identical. For example, a migraine headache and severe earache are not identical twins, but are the same in family likeness. That is, both are the same in causing great pain. Therefore, it is ludicrous to tell me of your splitting headache as I am reeling in agony with an earache. “Every man shall bear his own burden.”

And just how should this be applied to our lives? Before we put our burdens on some other poor soul, first consider, their wagon may be overloaded already. Even to the breaking point.

“Never put more of a burden on a person than they already have.”
(Dr. Joe Henry Hankins)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tired of the Towel

We are told, “He [Jesus] took a towel, and girded Himself…and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel.” Who would ever have believed the Deity that laid the foundation of the world would humble Himself to wash the feet of men such  as these. We’re told it was done that He might leave us an example. An example, I say, of not the lesser, but the greater and more spiritual offering Himself in menial service. “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

To be sure, we are “puffed-up” when we despair of a humble ministry. And when this happens, we can be confident the glory has departed. Greatness leaves when haughtiness enters. Christlikeness is when we perform tasks that do not cry or lift up their voice in the streets, that need no trumpet to announce their achievements. Whenever we become tired of the towel we can know we have lost our Christ-like dignity.

I encourage each true servant of Christ who is becoming “weary in well doing,” to keep on keeping on. DON’T THROW IN THE

Monday, November 5, 2012

Us and Our Children

“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.”

 The choice of who will rule over us is far reaching. It not only affects the present, but future generations to come. Israel’s choice not only plagued their nation then existing but their posterity down through time, even to this very day. Therefore, much care and prayer should be taken in one’s choice of who will lead them, whether it relates to their home, church, or country.   

This is not the first time this nation, blessed of God, had a problem in their choice of leadership. We are told in the Old Testament, because they desired to be like other nations, they chose a man who they thought would be to them everything, but instead, he took everything. Their children became his servants (government workers), there was a heavy levy put upon those that had possessions, and the things taken from them were given to his cronies. Also, their fields and lands were confiscated and given to those of his choosing. It’s all there, read 1Sam.8:11-18.

What a difference in leaders Saul and David were. The former had a religion that could get along with the godless; the latter refused to walk, stand, or sit with them. Saul only cared how the others saw him; David’s main concern was how God saw him. King Saul cared little for the lives of other people, King David, on the other hand, was very involved and concerned with the lives of others, even the unborn. You’ll remember, at a weak moment in David’s life, he impregnated Bathsheba, another man’s wife. But rather than abort the child, saving himself embarrassment and disgrace, he chose rather life. That is the man of God’s own choosing!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's Just Not For The Birds

It seems to me, the scriptures teach, whenever God wants to encourage His people to pray, He reminds them of His greatness and the miraculous things He did for them in the past. A good example of this is found in Psalm 81:10, “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.”

I heard an old preacher friend years ago illustrate our text. He said when there is a nest of hungry little birds, invariably they will look up to their parent and open their mouths wide. He went on to say, as long as they keep their mouths open, they will continue to be fed.

I don’t know about you, but I have been convicted lately of not asking and expecting great things from my Father. I think I need to “open my mouth wide,” and keep it that way for a while. How about you? James tells us, “Ye have not because ye ask not.”

f you’re like me, you can get a little timid when asking the Lord for the big things of life. But, at such times, it is well to heed the words of Dr. Charles Blanchard, second president of Wheaton College. He reminds us that God was never critical of anyone who asks too much from Him!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Lamb in the Lion's Mouth

When questioned by Saul on his ability to meet Goliath in warfare, David told him of two incidents that happened while he was watching his father’s flock. One of which was when a lion had come among the sheep, and had taken one of the lambs in his mouth, and David had caught him by the beard and slain him.

We hear and read much about this story, highlighting David, Saul, and Goliath. But to my knowledge, I find no place where anyone has given mention of the little lamb taken captive by the lion. How do you think he felt? Taken away from his secure place, his little heart beats like a drum, and then feels those sharp-edged teeth sinking through that wooly coat to his flesh. Ah, but then, all of a sudden, his shepherd shows up, there’s a sudden jerk, and he’s free. He stands there, defenseless, as he observes his defender kill his arch-enemy.

Thank God for that blessed One who is greater than David, our heavenly Shepherd, who delivers us poor, weak, defenseless lambs, from the greatest of all our enemies—Satan himself. Is not our testimony the same as that of Paul? “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Leson From God's Garden

It’s good to remember, God is always the initiator. This being true, it necessitates man being second. God sought us first, and not vice-versa; we were lost, not God. God knew us before we knew Him. And we’re plainly told “we love Him because He first loved us.” I knew and loved my four children before they were ever conscious of a knowing, loving father.

It’s humbling, but true. God works in us His plan, will, desire, and pleasure; and as a result, we work it out “with fear and trembling.” This is the way it has been from the beginning. God planted the garden in Eden, afterward, Adam dressed and kept it. This should challenge each of us to restrain ourselves from initiating things in our lives and ministries God is not the originator of.

Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”  In other words, whatever we plant, won’t bloom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's a Big Step

It is a wise person who seeks and does those things that are good for them in this life. David said, “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” The text suggests that even the “sweet psalmist,” the one called “a man after God’s own heart,” was not always near to his God. This is implied in the words, “draw near.”

The song writer had it right when he penned the words, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” Don’t you think he must have read the statement in the book of Jeremiah, where speaking of God’s people it says “Thus have they loved to wander.”

James exhorts us to “draw nigh to God, and (then promises) He will draw nigh to you.” If we will take the first step toward God, He will take the second toward us. And remember, God’s steps are bigger than ours. No matter how far away you may feel from him today, if you will take that first step toward Him, you’ll find after He takes His, you will be face to face with your God!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Undoing the Done

“Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear…And Jesus… touched his ear, and healed him.” I am sure Jesus restored Malchus’ ear, for why just heal him? The natural process would have taken care of that. Plus, Jesus never did anything halfway, but wholly.

Christ Jesus can clean-up any and all messes we make. But He and He alone must do it. As long as we hang around and try to help, I guarantee, the mess will get worse. I know, for I’ve spent most of my Christian life having Him clean up messes I’ve left behind.

Most, if not all our problems stem from an impulsive spirit, like Peter, in spite of the fact the wise man tells us, “Be not hasty in thy spirit.” Nevertheless, being a part of humanity, we are. But praise be to His name, when we do tangle up things, He will unravel them. IF WE LET HIM DO IT!

It is never too late for God to work.


(R.D.S)

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

To My Scholar Friends

Are you surprised that I would have a plurality of friends among this elite group? Well I do, so many in fact that I cannot name them all. You say you’re perplexed? It may be because of the fact that the meaning of the word “scholar” has been changed in our day. The original Latin meaning of the word is: “Discipulus”, and is defined as: disciple, student, learner, or pupil. This latter word is how the Bible interprets it; it contrasts the teacher with scholar (1 Chron. 25:8).

I like what C.S. Lewis says about changing the meaning of words, “When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object.” I’m afraid that is what the word “scholar” has come to mean in our day, “a term of praise.” Personally, I am impressed with folks like the scholar, Mary, who sit at His feet and are always learning. People “soaked in the scriptures,” if you please.

The great evangelist, D.L. Moody, used to call the children of his Sunday school, “My little scholars.” May the good Lord help us to never get so big for our britches, that we lose that child-like awe in learning at our Master’s feet!   

A Know-So Salvation

Many years ago a young pastor was building a great church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The congregation was growing by leaps and bounds. One of our nation’s leading magazines picked up the story and did a featured piece about it. Shortly after, the youthful preacher became an extreme hyper-Calvinist. He taught God’s elect could only hope they were saved, but couldn’t know it for certain.

The story is told, the first Sunday he preached this doctrine, one of his leading men in the church got up to leave; upon which, the pastor asked the reason for his departure. The gentleman replied, “If you can’t know you’re saved, how can you know you’re called to preach? I’m not going to listen to a man who does not know for sure he’s been called.”

Paul did not teach any such doctrine as the above mentioned. On the contrary, he wrote to the new believers in Christ at Thessalonica, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” Notice, it was not a hope so, but, a know-so salvation. It’s worth repeating, if one does not know he or she is saved, how then can they be assured of anything else in their Christian life.

“Think, think, think,” says Winnie-the-Pooh. Does it make sense that God would let you know in no uncertain terms you are lost, but not give you the same surety you’re saved? I think not, my friend. And I have a sneaking suspicion you don’t either. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A God Like Me

David tells us of those who make idols with their own hands. He says they make them with mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet. Then he finishes his account by adding this interesting statement, “They that make them are like unto them.” In other words, their God is not only made by them, but he is like them.

It is important to realize, we too can fashion our own God, but without sculpting a physical statue. We carve out an image of deity in the imagination of our minds, the only difference being in material substance. God’s indictment against His people in the Psalms proves one can create his or her own mental God, “Thou ‘thoughtest’ I was altogether such a one as thyself.”

The reason our God is lacking in compassion, mercy, holiness, love, tenderness, and a host of other precious attributes, is that we have crafted a God like unto ourselves. I’m sure you’re familiar with this scripture, “In the image of man made he God.” OOPS!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep It To Yourself

Hast thou faith? have [it] to thyself before God.”

Many use the old adage, “My life is an open book.” If that be so, I am sure it is an incredibly thin autobiography. Upon inspecting its pages, I think we’d find someone had taken a pen-knife and removed at least one-third of it. A weak believer might use this little quip in all honesty, and mean it, but never a strong believer. For the latter knows, some things in the Christian life are to be kept between themselves and God alone.

Let no one misunderstand me, the context of the above scripture is not referring to the fundamentals of the faith, but to the shady areas, those questionable things that arise in the Christian’s life. You know, whether “to do or not to do?” The mature saint can do certain things with a clear conscience before God, but, should keep it there; before God. They’re not to flagrantly flaunt their liberty before their immature or unenlightened brother or sister.

It is possible to influence weaker brethren to sin by going against their conscience in something that is perfectly legitimate for you to do. And to attempt to impose your liberty as a rule for others to follow, who are not at your stage of growth in the Lord, does not liberate them, but to the contrary, it brings them into bondage.

Mathew Henry says, “Enjoy (your liberty) in the comfort of your own bosom before God.” Notice, “before God,” you need not worry about offending Him! He sees what you do and approves, if not sin. But let the free man or woman beware not to parade their freedom before those who do not yet fully understand one’s “glorious liberty in Christ; for this can bring upon the advanced believer either scandal or contention among the brethren.    

 “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The "Master" Mind

In this age, like others, there are discussions among intellects concerning the great minds and thinkers of the past. In our contemporary society, we have what is called, “Think Tanks.” This is when a group of intellects meet together to discuss a variety of subjects which have real   substance.

Many are awed by these assemblages, which include, to name a few, political, social, religious, and philosophical groups. But all this brainpower is wasted, hot air, if you please, if that “One” with the greatest of all minds and grandest of all thinkers combined, is not invited into their dialogue. It’s humbling to think of, but mankind never had an original thought that God didn’t think of first.

 My pale I’m often dropping
Deep down into this well.
It never touched the bottom,
However deep it fell;
And though I keep on dipping
By study, faith, and prayer,
I have no power to measure
The Living Water there.

The Right Hand of God

Like many preachers of the past and present, my mother had a profound influence upon my life. She was instrumental in my salvation and encouraged me in the ministry. There is hardly a day goes by that, as the old song goes, these “precious memories flood my soul.”

Toward the end of her journey here on earth, at the age of ninety-three, she had to be taken to the hospital (for the first time in her life). Her blood count was critically low, and she received two separate transfusions. After that, though she weighed only eighty pounds, she began to recover a little of her strength.

When my wife and I visited her at the hospital, we were surprised they had gotten her up to begin walking. It was both the cutest, and at the same time, most pitiful sight of her I had ever seen. There she was standing in that long hallway, with floors waxed, holding on to a walker with wheels; and a nurse by her side.

When she saw us, she began walking our way. As she got closer she gained speed and almost flew past us, her feet hardly touching the floor. I don’t think in all my life I ever saw such a smile of accomplishment on her face. Then I noticed, the nurse had tied a towel around her waist which she was holding with her right hand at the small of Mom’s back.

O, precious child of God, do you feel you cannot take another step, that you are too weak to even stand? Then take cheer, my helpless friend! For God’s darling David experienced the same, and his testimony was, “Thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Overwrought: Because It's Not Overnight

Have you recently made some type of decision or commitment to Christ concerning your spiritual life? Have you seen very little change in the area you desired to see transformed? Are you tempted to give up because of the thought you will never be able to obtain the thing you longed for?

What is the problem with people in such a predicament as the likes of us? It’s quite simple. I will grant that some changes in the Bible are radical and instantaneous, but, generally speaking, most come slowly, over a process of time. We need to learn to be patient, not only with God, but ourselves.

A good Bible illustration of this is found in 2 Samuel chapter three verse one. “Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul weaker and weaker.” Here we see David did not become overnight what he later became. Notice, it was a long process of personal battles before he achieved it!

As the Chinese proverb that I quote so frequently says, “A thousand mile journey was started with one step.” If you have started yours by faith, don’t stop or turn back; you’ll always arrive at the right place if you’re on the right road. Ask Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.

       

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Change of Garments

I understand when people say they like consistency in the life of a Christian. But one needs to understand when making such a statement that it is a general truth. I hope you take this in the right context, and you will if you think it through, “Consistency is the virtue of fools,” says a preacher of yesteryear. You know, Brinks taking the same route to the bank each day.

What I am speaking of is the ability to adapt oneself to various situations, without compromise. This will take a lot of wisdom, plus humility; by the way, don’t try it without the filling of the Spirit. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men.” You cannot be consistent and fulfill this scripture.

Each of us has an inner garment, and should have a selection of outer ones. God never asks us to change our inner garment. But He does expect us to put on a variety of outward spiritual ones from time to time, as the occasion might warrant. One of the great problems among many separate groups today is their unwillingness to don a diverse coat.

Let each of us make sure we have a great assortment of outward garments in our closets; and that we always dress for the occasion!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Today May Be the Day

“And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains...” How wonderful to be freed from the bondage of literal chains by a fellow man. But to be emancipated by God from spiritual chains is nothing short of marvelous. To hear the words, “He hath sent me...to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison...” far from within our own prison, is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

It says of Peter while in prison, “And his chains fell off...” It was almost unbelievable both to him and others who had been praying for him. And so it is, or will be, in the near future, for many of us who are held slave to something in our lives. Without warning, and when we least expect it, deliverance comes.

As Charles Wesley so aptly wrote, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, and I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

Take heart, weary captive, keep your ear turned. Soon you will hear the turn of the key....maybe this very day!

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Turbulence

I joined the Air Force at seventeen years old, the start of the Korean War, and shortly thereafter spent a tour of duty there. During those four years of service I can remember a harrowing experience on a flight from Korea to Japan, a buddy and I were just minutes away from a jump after seeing the warning light come on. Then, just a few years back, when traveling from Washington to Virginia for a revival meeting, we came close to crashing. Four fire trucks and two ambulances were awaiting us when we landed. But thankfully, they were not needed.

My wife travels by plane to visit her loved ones in Ohio from time to time (all my loved ones there are now deceased).  Just before her flight time, I always tell her, “If you hit turbulence, holding tight to the arm rests, and leaning the opposite way to help straighten out the plane, just won’t work. And all your anxiety will not cure the circumstances. Humanly speaking, you must trust the pilot.”

O, beloved in Christ, trying to manipulate fearful conditions we meet in our journey of life, and spending unnumbered hours in agonizing worry, will not correct the situation. WE MUST TRUST THAT BLESSED ONE AT THE CONTROLS!  We must learn to emulate our brethren in the Bible, who, we are told, are our examples. Listen to Esther’s statement of commitment, “If I perish, I perish.” And darling David’s words, “Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us.” And what Bible beaver is not familiar with Jobs immortal statement, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Starting Again, and Again, and Again

Who among God’s elect has not fallen into some sort of dreadful sin, at one time or another? Each, I’m sure, remembers the excitement and exhilaration experienced when that load was lifted, the conscience cleansed, and fellowship restored; when we began again with an all new fresh start.

Well, my friend, this is not only true of certain intervals, but, no, not daily, but moment by moment. You do not have to wait till bedtime or find a place you can get alone. There is no place or situation you can find yourself that you cannot, in that very second, find forgiveness and cleansing by simple confession.

And once this is done, as A.W. Tozer brings to our attention, God forgives us as if we were newly created; like we had no past. Glory over me! We can have that sense of a fresh beginning over and over again, moment by moment. What a God!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Suggestion for Preachers

Some years ago I was in a meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. The church was packed, and the people were wall to wall. They were even sitting on the platform stairs. There was a trucker there, who, whenever I hit on a good point, would shout out, “Park her there, preacher, and preach awhile!” And believe me, I did!

I think one of the marks of a really great preacher is seen in him not having to finish his sermon. The Bible knows nothing of sermons anyway; it is a message God’s man is to deliver. If a preacher is sensitive to the Holy Ghost, he will allow for Divine Intervention. As Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his household we are told, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

An associate was asked about what he thought his greatly blessed and used pastor’s secret was in his preaching. His simple answer was, “He can close it out on his first or second point, he doesn’t have to finish.” I have seen preachers (including myself) take God’s people into the heavenlies, only to bring them back down to earth by their stubborn insistence in finishing their sermon. My advice to preachers, for what it is worth, is when you have God’s people in His presence, close it out and leave them there! Yes, even if it is only fifteen minutes into your message.

“God’s people do not enjoy hearing us half as much as we enjoy hearing ourselves.”
(Warren W. Wiersbe)
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Knowledge Plus

Knowledge alone is like trying to walk with one leg. That is, knowledge by itself will get you nowhere. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and at the same time, very dangerous. Wonderful, if it’s used as a starting point to get you somewhere; dangerous, if it lies dormant and becomes stagnant.

Peter tells us knowledge is one of the things in life that needs an additive. Once you have knowledge you must follow through with it, Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD.” Doing something follows knowing something: James writes, “Him that knoweth to do good…” Jesus tells us the servant who knows, but doesn’t do anything with that knowledge, well, that is bad news for him or her.

Daniel records for us, at “the time of the end… knowledge shall be increased.” There is an eerie thirst for knowledge today. People want it just for the sake of having it; but they have no intention of doing anything with it. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “We have enough brains to damn the world.” I think we need to put a temporary hold on knowledge until we catch up by using what we already have.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Self-Confidence

“Have no confidence in the flesh.” Anyone who does is trusting in (leaning on), a broken reed. The greatest authority who ever lived told us, “The flesh is weak.” Therefore, self-confidence shows the weakness of an individual.

God never asks us to believe in ourselves, but to believe in Him. The wise man put it this way, ““For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” There is a song I like, called “I Did it My Way.” Except I say, “I did it His way.”

The problem with self-centerness is that the true center is not central. “And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.”  The man or woman who boasts of their self-confidence, as G.K Chesterton wrote, is like “Wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it.”

As someone commented concerning a self-assured man, “He is attentive to his own applause.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Hour of Prayer

An hour can mean a length of time, but also a particular moment in time. I do not know which the song writer had in mind; the latter would be more scriptural. Jesus warns of those who make long prayers for a pretense. It’s the quality not the quantity that counts with God. A brief prayer can be profound.

Elijah prayed sixty-three words and the fire fell, Our Lord’s prayer has sixty-six words, and it’s been a comfort to millions for over two thousand years; the Publican prayed seven words and came out justified; Peter prayed three words and was saved from sinking, and blessed Mary Magdalene said one word, “Rabboni” (“Master”), and defined worship for all of time.  

Dr. M.R. De Haan used to say, “Usually those who pray long in public pray little in private.” And A.W. Pink comments, “Wordy prayers are usually windy ones.” But I think Martin Luther said it best: “When thou prayest let thy words be few, but thy thoughts and affections many, and above all let them be profound. The less thou speakest the better thou prayest.”

Let us follow the Greek’s philosophy, by “Putting an ocean of truth in a drop of Speech.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

First and Then

You’ll find these two little words coupled together throughout the book of Matthew. We read about reconciliation with a brother, then worship; seeking the kingdom, then comes the additives; taking the beam from your eye, then your brother’s; binding the strong man, then spoiling his goods.

We say, “First things first,” yes, but this doesn’t negate second things. The very word prioritize necessitates other things. There are certain things we are to put at the top of the list, but then the next. We are not to neglect what follows the first. “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” It seems today many Christian’s never seem to get around to the “then” Jesus spoke of.

For example, to cite just one such case, “Cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Here we see Jesus works from the inside out. But notice, He is interested in the outward when taken in its proper order. To use the anemic argument that God is only concerned with the inward shows a total ignorance of the scriptures.

I do not know of one person who’d be willing to drink from a cup that had lipstick smudges, grease, and old food particles caked to it on the outside, although it is sparkling clean on the inside. Do you, my friend?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time Heals

In my writings I like to use popular clichés from time to time. But all such little quips do not necessarily have a scriptural principle connected to them. One such saying is, “Time heals all wounds.” This is not so, and I’m sure knowledgeable medical professionals would agree with me.

 I have observed in today’s society that no matter what one does, and how many are hurt by their actions, if he or she waits long enough, they can be accepted back into their previous position with welcoming arms.

I can understand an unregenerate world doing this, but not the body of Christ. I’ve noticed all types of wrong-doers are being accepted back into fellowship with their Christian brethren and families if they simply put enough space between their sins and their return.

But no matter how lengthy the interval between the wrong done and the acceptance back into fellowship, there must be a repentance proved by its fruit. If you sin privately, you repent privately. But, if you sin publically, you repent publically.

Taking people back into your life because of misguided affections, personal advantage, or because your peers will think you hard or harsh, will not cut the mustard with God! Remember, the person who has not truly repented of his or her wrong, remains the same person. And when you accept them without a complete turn-around in their lives, you condone their sin!

 “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making Beds

"Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” A dear brother, now with the Lord, was in a Tennessee hospital for liver problems, because of drugs he took while unconverted. I called to comfort him, and just before finishing our talk I quoted the above verse to him. Some months later I heard him give this testimony. Immediately after placing the phone in its cradle, a sweet little nurse entered his room. She smiled, and then said, “Mister Danny, if you can just stand for a minute, I’ll make your bed for you.”

Two of the greatest truths God ever revealed to me are: 1) God will not do for me what I can do for myself. And 2), God will do for me what I cannot do for myself. Jesus didn’t roll the stone away at Lazarus’ tomb, because the men could. But God did roll it away at Jesus’ tomb, because the women couldn’t. A.W. Tozer has a message entitled, “Miracles Follow the Plow.” That is, you need not expect a miracle until you have done all you know and can do. Miracles in Bible times came not to those who were looking or praying for them, but to those who were doing what they could do. Then, when all human resources are exhausted, the Divine kicks in.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Silence of God

Between the Old and New Testaments there were four hundred silent years when God said nothing. And in our precious Lord’s case, He waited some thirty years to hear God say, “Thou art my beloved Son.” When He recorded for us, “Let thy words be few,” God practiced what He preached. The Bible (K.J.V. 1611) has 773,746 words; considering the fact God is infinite, that “ain’t” very many.

Blaise Pascal wrote a friend, “I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write a short one.” Well, time is something God has plenty of. God doesn’t waste words. His philosophy, it is apparent, is “Brevity is best.” You might say, He is not a big talker. He is truly a man of few words. The type person who follows His example, generally, can say a lot in few words.

It has been popular as far back as I can remember to hear the phrase, “The Lord spoke to me,” or “God told me.” And to hear this spiritually elite group talk about it, it happens frequently in lengthy conversations with the Lord. If this be true, I wonder why God spoke from heaven to his Son so infrequently, in comparison, while He was on earth. I used to be one of the above who boasted of God speaking to me on a regular basis. Now, I think it best to simply say, “I feel impressed God might want me to do such and such.”

 The true test of a prophet in the Old Testament was whether or not what God told him actually came to pass. I have found on more occasions than I’d like to admit, it didn’t in my life and ministry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Second Sight

[Jesus] asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put [his] hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

Since the Bible teaches we can apply all Scripture in instructing us in righteousness (right living), I’d like to use our text to show how we look at people. It is so important to see them in the frame God places them. We can have a distorted view at first sight. There is such a thing as, “second sight,” taking a second look, if you please.

 If not careful, we can look at others the way they were and not the way they are. This is true both in the negative and positive sense. Some are better, others worse than they were. You cannot help or be helped by a person unless you see them clearly as they actually are. Ananias did not know Paul had changed for the better, while Elisha’s Gehazi went from good to bad.

Only the touch of God can make us see others plainly. We are always biased in the flesh to one extreme or another. We need the “Divine Optometrist” to open our eyes. If not, we will invariably see others out of proportion, either more or less than they actually are. The misjudging of an individual, good or bad, comes from the fact that we have not received a “second touch” from our Lord.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Critics of the Godly

A professing Christian once criticized the saintly evangelist, John R. Rice. The old man did not reply to the criticism, but simply  mentioned that he’d read his Bible through countless times, prayed daily, won hundreds to Christ, raised godly girls, gave of his income, had been true to his wife, etc. Then he asked his critic, “Have you done these, or even a small part of them?” The man shamefully looked down. Dr. Rice then replied, “Well, your criticism of me doesn’t say much for you, does it?”

Criticism always comes from those who have a superior attitude. The lofty ones of Jesus day supposed themselves greater than the “lowly One.” Thus, our Lord’s warning to His followers, “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” If they “bad-mouthed” the sinless Son of God day and night, what do you think they will do to us? The advantage of the critic over the godly is that the latter does not generally answer directly to the criticism, or attempt to defend his or her self. “But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.”

These enemies of all righteousness cannot comprehend the godly are the glue holding this world together. Take them away and everything falls apart. It is only their presence and prayers that is preserving things such as our homes, schools, cities, and even individual lives. And yes, entire nations also! These calloused critics are unconscious of the fact that God’s blessings are on His people, the ungodly simply happen to enjoy the benefits. You know, “My cup runneth over.” Thus, the less is blessed by the better. They have never come to the realization that Laban did, “And Laban said unto him [Jacob]… I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.

 “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Opportunity Doesn't Knock Twice

If the above cliché be true, and I think it generally is, we need to take advantage of every opportunity; for chances are, it will not pass our way a second time.

I am not a prophet, but life’s experiences teach me that many of us, in the near future, are going to be presented with some life-changing opportunities. If this be so, will we be found among that small remnant of opportunity takers, or with the majority of opportunity breakers?

We are what we choose. Show me a person’s choices, and I will tell you not only what kind of man or woman he or she is, but where their lives will end.

Someone said, “The god of opportunity has hair over its face, and wings on its feet. The former tells us most do not recognize it when it comes; the latter, that it flys away quickly.” Let us each be on the look-out, in the near future, that we do not miss a “Golden Opportunity.” 

Friday, September 14, 2012

*Inside Your Armour

Do not be deceived; inside a saint’s armour you will not always find a warrior with a soft heart. It is possible for a wicked person with a heart of stone to be adorned with such gear. Joab was adorned with the same armour as David, but the ones heart was like flint, while the other was as fallow ground.

In Marks gospel we read, “And when he [Jesus] had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” It grieves the heart of God because of the hardness of many of His children’s hearts. It is acceptable, even preferable, for a child of God to have a tough hide, but the Lord wants him or her with a tender heart.

Therefore, as the song goes, “Guard your heart.” Once the flesh enters the armour God has provided, it takes its heart of stone with it. Thus the outward battle against Satan, that old lion, is lost before it is begun; it becomes unwinnable. A good heart behind God’s armour becomes like Bunyan’s Mr. Great Heart in his book, Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan writes of him, “Now, Mr. Great-heart was a strong man, so he was not afraid of a lion.”