Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everlasting Peace

“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them.” Paul tells us in Ephesians, chapter two, verses eleven through fifteen that this promise to Israel in the Old Testament is now in full force to us Gentile believers under the New Covenant. It is absolutely endless; it is forevermore, never to be altered or abolished. It is a peace now and forever.

This is the peace Jesus left to His followers before returning home to His Father. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”  Matthew Henry, commenting on this text says, “When Christ was about to leave the world he made his will. His soul he committed to his Father; his body he bequeathed to Joseph, to be decently interred; his clothes fell to the soldiers; his mother he left to the care of John: but what should he leave to his poor disciples that had left all for him? Silver and gold he had none; but he left them that which was infinitely better, his peace. ‘I leave you, but I leave my peace with you. I not only give you a title to it, but put you in possession of it.’”

This peace is not the absence of storms, but in the midst of them. O, beloved, while all around the angry waves toss us, and the dark billowy clouds hide His blessed face, let us peacefully pillow our heads on His promise, “Let us pass over unto the other side…and they came over unto the other side.”  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heads, I Win!

What captain of a football team would not like to know, before he calls the toss, whether it will be heads or tails? By calling it right at the beginning of the game, he may just determine the outcome of it. That one call could decide defeat or victory.

There is no “may” win in determining the Christian’s outcome in the game of life. We can be certain, if we choose “heads,” we’ll win. God, speaking to His people in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-eight, tells them that if they will live for Him, then He will set them on high, above all others on earth. In verse thirteen, He promises us “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.”

PRAYER: Dear Lord, how I thank Thee that, at the beginning of the game, all those many years ago, when calling the toss, I chose “heads.” From that time to this, the outcome has always been certain. As my dear friend Mark Andrews always says, “It’s good to be on the winning team!” Amen Mark.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sizing-Up People

A missionary friend told me this story some years ago. He said there was a godly old man in his home church, who, whenever he saw him turned away his eyes. The younger said he was sure the elder had something against him. When confronted, the senior saint explained he had been in the Second WW and had killed many young blue-eyed, blonde-headed boys like him. He said it was too painful for him to look upon him.

I have found to my own dismay, things are not generally the way I size them up to be. I am guilty of reading much more into a situation than is actually there. I’m too fast on the draw, so to speak. As a result, I’ve shot myself in the foot on more than one occasion. For example, I was once standing on the balcony of a motel looking down at the hood of my car, and I was sure I saw a big dent someone had put there. A friend standing close by, who I was trying desperately to convince, asked me to look at it from where he was standing. Needless to say, it was the sun’s reflection on that area that made it look so.

In the Gospels there is a story about a man who saw men as trees. Jesus touched his eyes, and we are told that he then saw clearly. Most of the time when judging situations, I find I need to take a second look. How about you? 

“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” (Isa.11:3)



                         

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Christian Cheerleaders

Be of good cheer.” The definition of this little five-letter word is “a shout of encouragement and approval, etc.; to raise the spirits; to urge on.” To the one lying on a sick bed, to His followers in the midst of a storm, to those fearful of being swallowed up by the world, and to that saint imprisoned by circumstances, Christ said to each, “Be of good cheer.” I have a sneaking suspicion, had the song been written at the time, we would have heard these individuals singing, “Who can cheer the heart like Jesus?”

Paul followed his Master’s example in life. To those who had suffered an extended time in darkness in a storm, without any ray of hope, we hear the same words that His Lord spoke fall from his own lips. “Be of good cheer.” In fact, he said it three times.

It is sometimes said by pastors, “You’re either a participant or a spectator,” attempting to get Christians involved. This is a general truth. There are circumstances when some of God’s choicest saints are no longer able to be in the game. But I have found they still have something to contribute; they are all great “cheerer-ups.”

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up. ~Mark Twain

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Divine Arithmetic

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)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Messianic Complex

“I know that [when] Messias cometh...he will tell us all things.” How many of us like to play the part of this Divine Personage. We have the answer for everyone’s problems. We are real problem-solvers. That is, unless it relates to our own lives. If those we try to impress with our deep understanding knew this, they would say to us, “Physician, heal thyself.”

We may act like “miniature messiahs,” but we are, at best, poor replicas. Many times while we are attempting to unscramble eggs, we make a bigger mess. I’m finding the best way to help those who are hurting is simply by listening. I do not want a place among Job’s so-called enlightened friends. I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all to those who are hurting. I’m not a messiah; I’m a man. May God help me to be “swift to hear, and slow to speak.”

It doesn’t matter what the question is; the answer is always Jesus

Monday, February 20, 2012

Frustrated Followers

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not.”

John, speaking for the twelve, relates to Jesus how they had used their self-appointed authority to forbid one ministering in Christ’s name. One, who as John put it, “followeth not us.”  It seemed to them, no doubt, no one could possibly be for Christ who did not belong to their group and do things the way they did. But, as dear Matthew Henry says, “Christ’s grace is not tied to the visible Church.”

Does the above not remind us of Joshua’s words when two men prophesied in the camp but went not up with the rest to the door of the Tabernacle? “My lord Moses, forbid them.” To which the patriarch answered, “Enviest thou for my sake? The old man went on to say, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that he  would put his spirit upon them!” I wonder if there was not a little envy among the disciples also because of the man successfully casting out a devil. Remember, a brief time earlier when they attempted to cast of a devil from a young child? We are told “they could not.”

It is good to keep in mind that friendship and hostility toward Christ do not exist together. To quote Henry again, “That which is good, and doth good, must not be prohibited, though there may be some defect or irregularity in the manner of doing it.” Jesus did not tell his disciples to join the man, to promote him, nor to persuade him to come in with them. He simply told them, “Forbid him not.” I find it wise to heed our Lord’s admonition to Peter when he asked Jesus what He had in mind for John. “What is that to thee? follow thou me.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

*Clowns Cry Too

Anyone who has lived awhile having observed human nature doesn’t have to be a psychologist to figure out there are different types of personalities. The common man may not be familiar with the term, “temperament,” used by professionals to describe these various dispositions; but still, he or she, is well aware such distinctions exist.

Among these diversified creatures of God is the loveable, outgoing, cheerful Sanguine. This type of individual lights up any room he or she enters. Their positive attitude and overflowing words of encouragement are a healing balm to any and all downtrodden souls. They are, as I like to refer to them, “God’s Lifter-Uppers.”

But it’s possible to leave a circus, being heartened by the one with the big smile and a willingness to do anything to get us to laugh, and forget that clowns cry too. May God help us to remember that behind the cheerful smile of that sanguine saint who is such a blessing to us, there can be tears underneath that external make-up.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unacceptable Sacrifice

The issue with God is not yours but you. If He has the latter, He most certainly will get the former. It’s a package deal, you see. But, it’s possible to give Him the first without you being in the bargain. And this is unacceptable with God. Paul alludes to this truth when writing of the Macedonian Christians. They had sacrificed what they had unto the Lord but had first given themselves.

A life is the only acceptable sacrifice God will take. Inanimate things are bloodless. And Cain found out, “you can’t get blood out a turnip.” Also that God has no respect for such things on His altar, unless, of course, they are connected with a life already on it.  For example, God doesn’t want your wallet in the offering plate; He wants you in it. If He gets that, He’ll have what’s in your pockets.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Going For the Gold

Paul likens the Christian life to running in a race. One of his admonitions for those who would win is to not look back. Or as the old black relief pitcher Satch Paige used to say, “Don’t look back, deh might be a-gainin’ on yuh!”

You can’t win a race looking backward. For this reason the Apostle tells us to forget those things which are behind. Two things will cause us to lose in life’s race: gloating over previous successes, or resurrecting former failings. The first will puff us up, bringing about a fall; and the latter will discourage us, and be the reason for our quitting. No one ever won the gold laying with his or her face in the dirt, nor was the prize presented to anyone who walked off the track in the middle of the race. 

Advancement comes from keeping your eye on the goal. And our goal is God! And that, my dear Christian friend, is the joy that is set before us. Go for it!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Original Intent

Sometimes when referring to the Constitution it’s asked “What was our Founding Fathers’ original intent? We would be wise to find out what The Founding Father’s original intent was in creating man. It certainly wasn’t soul winning; there were no sinners. Nor was it that Adam might pray to God. Prayer is basically asking and receiving. What can a man ask for who has everything?

Man was not created a robot. God’s original purpose for man was free-will worship. When you pray you want something; when you worship you want Someone. Man was not coerced into desiring God. God delights in being longed for and loved. When we are brought back from our fallen condition God’s original intent is still in effect. Jesus said that worship was to be our top priority, service holding second position. When He dealt with the woman at the well, the theme was worship. And so should ours be with everyone we encounter.

“There is a point in true worship where the mind may cease to understand and goes over to a kind of delightful astonishment---probably to what Carlyle described as "transcendent wonder," a degree of wonder without limit and beyond expression!….” A.W. Tozer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's Not the Way; It's the Fact

"I will come again." There is nothing surer in the world than the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. On this fact, the three main views of prophecy agree. It is how He will return (that is, the events surrounding it) that causes the division in the different camps. The interpretation of prophetic events has brought deep diversity among those who hold the various views. Any debate about the subject seems to cause more friction than light.

Though my position is that of the historic Premillennialist (not to be confused with the Dispensational view), I have dear friends and loved ones who hold opposing views. Because of this fact it has allowed me to observe each position a little closer. Generally speaking, in my own opinion, the three views of prophecy have lost something very distinctive—something crucial, no matter what their belief. The Premillennialist seems to major on a Rapture, and the events associated with it. The Postmillennialist speaks of nothing but the coming Kingdom and an age of righteousness, while the Amillennialist seems to spend his time correcting the other two, seeking to disprove a thousand-year reign on earth in the future.

Whatever your view, you do not want to lose sight of Who it is all about—Jesus Christ. When one does this, even if theirs is the correct view, it becomes no better than the other two. One is always safe in saying, "Jesus is coming again!"

"The Second Coming of Christ is the medicine our condition especially needs."  C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

*The Humanness of Job

When you take humanness out of sainthood you create a monster, a “Super-Saint.” A creature no one else can relate too, other than their own self-fashioned, self-deceived kind. One who, if ever there was a vacancy in the Godhead, would be the first to apply for the position.

These superior saints would never utter the words that fell from the lips of this common man of clay. For their standing before the brethren is of more value to them than their standing before God. The words I refer to concern Job’s prayer life, “If I had called, and he had answered me; [yet] would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.”

Matthew Henry, commenting on Job’s words and what he was essentially saying, puts it this way, “Had He given the thing I called to Him for, yet, so weak and defective are my best prayers, that I would not believe He had therein hearkened to my voice.” Had God done so, his answer to the one relaying the good tidings, I believe, would no doubt have been the same as Mary’s to Rhoda, when Peter was delivered from prison while they prayed, “Thou art mad.”

What a wonderful God we have who would send His precious Son into the world in human form that He might explain to the Father Humanity’s humanness. No doubt, because He does understand this, it is written, “If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful.”