Friday, March 30, 2012

The Overlap

“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts”… “[One] generation passeth away, and [another] generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever”.

God does not abruptly stop with one generation and start at that point with another. There is a carry over, a gradual transition. An overlap, if you please. Like the waves of the sea coming in to the shore. The purpose for this is that the previous generation might convey to the present one the successes and failures of their own times, so that the testimony of the elders might be used to help and warn them against the danger.

The older generation is obligated to pass on to the coming generation the pitfalls on the pathway of life, as well as the ingredients that go into successful living. That is, they are to pass the torch, so that they will not stumble in darkness on life’s journey. Thus, there’ll be no need for them to “walk in the light of their own fire.” When light is needed, a floodlight is to be preferred to a candle, if available.

Both these groups have a choice. The one can gain wisdom by listening and learning; or, because of youthful pride, reject the counsel of the elders and pay a dear consequence. The second has the option of warning and exhorting, or because of fear of being misunderstood, keeping silent, which will be a detriment to the next generation.

The previous generation is not necessarily smarter or wiser than the present one, but they have already been down the road the younger are to travel!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Dread to Delight

"And Esau ran to meet him, and he embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." What a sight this must have been, especially when you consider the great gulf that existed between these two. For years, the one had carried a grudge, while the other was loaded down with guilt.

But the God who makes both ends to meet in the middle can also make the two extremes compatible and compassionate when they meet face to face. Time is a great healer. The wise man tells us there's "…a time to embrace."

Let's allow in others what we desire for ourselves—time to grow and mature. It's amazing the change a few years can bring. God turned Jacob's long dreading into delight, and so can he do with us.

Compatibility is always a possibility with God.





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Open Letter To My Black Friend

Dear James,
My blessed mother used to say, “If you’re going to send me flowers, do it while I’m alive.” I thought since we are both “kickin” I’d send you a nice spray. The Bible tells us to give honor to whom honor is due. Well I want to do just that. And may I add, I think it to be long overdue!

As I near the fourscore mark in my life, needless to say, I have met and observed a great number within the male race. Out of this great host there have been few I met who possessed the manliness, character and unwavering principles that you own. Whenever I think of you, as well as your lovely wife Dee, and the two grown children, James and Alicia, I think of the word class!

I’ve always liked to think of you as Ebedmelech the Ethiopian in the Old Testament. Just as he pulled Jeremiah up from the miry pit, so you have pulled out untold numbers of souls from the mire of this world. Your long ministry in Norfolk, as well as your dear people can attest to this fact.

James, I thank my God for the day our paths crossed, and the great privilege I have had in serving with you as a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. It has truly been an honor for me. It is wonderful to realize our camaraderie will not end here but will continue on there.

In closing, I think of something I recently heard while watching the western movie, “Rooster Cogburn.” John Wayne and Kathryn Hepburn starred. At the end, they parted ways, but as she rode off, she suddenly stopped and rode back. And what she said to the character played by Wayne I say to you dear friend. “Reuben…I have to say you're a credit to the whole male sex, and I'm proud to have ya for my friend.”

Richard

Back to the Bible

A woman once said to me, “Like the Bible says, preacher, ‘Every tub must sit on its own bottom.’” We laugh, but such ignorance is rampant today among so-called Christians. It is reported 85% of our nation professes to be Christians. Yet, just to take one example, the immorality that plagues us is equal only to that of the Roman Empire before its fall (some think worse).

Ignorance to the law is no excuse. So we are told in our courts. Well nether is ignorance of God’s Law before His tribunal. Breaking commandments such as, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” Thou shalt not steal,” and “Honour thy father and thy mother,” etc., cannot be justified by arguing, “I didn’t know.” Neither by saying, “That’s your interpretation.” It means what it says, as do all His Commandments!

We are in desperate need of a Bible Revival in our time. You can understand a Bible Blindness during the Dark Ages; but not a self-imposed willful one, in our enlightened day. God promises blessings and prosperity to all those who both read and keep His Word, and a curse to those who do not. I for one want the blessings of God upon my life.  

“The Bible will keep me from sin or sin will keep me from the Bible!” (D. L. Moody)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sentimentality/Spirituality

Today we have a syrupy type of Christianity. We have become so sweet we’re sickening. We have substituted sentimentality for spirituality. Trying to pass off the former as being the latter. Oswald Chambers mentions this in one of his books, saying we have replaced the God-Man with Brother-man, turning spirituality into sentimentality.

Some descriptive words the dictionary associates with sentimental are: romantic, emotional, slushy, impressionable, and gushy. One definition is, Resulting from or colored by emotion rather than reason or realism.” You always find this type of person with the “Bleeding Heart” crowd. Their feelings take precedent over the scriptures, every time. “I think,” is their standard terminology. “Thus saith the Lord,” is not a part of their vocabulary.

The greatest need of our day is getting back to a raw, rugged, Christianity. Tough love, if you please. Principled saints who are willing to be seen as harsh. People who hold to the same teaching as the Army instructor who told would-be medics attending the wounded on the battle field, “If you’re not willing to hurt them, you can’t help them (Prov.27:6, b). I have observed in a ministry that spans over half a century that the men and women who are most compassionate are those with the strongest convictions! Those like their Lord.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FOR THOSE OVER FIFTY

The following is a portion of a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon entitled, The Old Man’s Sermon. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Richard

Your work is almost done, it only remains to leave behind you a monument by which you may be remembered. Mar- ble and brass will perish, but the Truth of God will remain! Set up a memorial of faithful testimony! Not much longer will you mingle with the sons of men. Your seat will be empty and the place which knows you today will know you no more. Hand on, then, the blessed treasure of the Gospel! You die, but the cause of God must not. Speak now, so that when you are gone it may be said of you, “He, being dead, yet speaks.” Call your children and your grandchildren to- gether and tell them what a good God you have served! Or, if you have no such dear ones, speak to your neighbors and your friends, or write it down that other eyes may read it when yours are glazed in death.

Reach out your hands to the ages yet to come and present them with the pearl of great price. Pray God to enable you to set your mark upon the coming generation and then set about winning youth to Jesus by a cheerful, bold, unhesitating witness to His love and power! Willing to go, we all ought to be, but we ought scarcely to desire departure till we have seen the interests of the cause of God secured for coming time! If there is one more soul to be saved, one more heart to be comforted, one more jewel to be gathered for the Redeemer’s crown, you will say, dear Friend, I am sure “Let me wait till my full day’s work is done.”—

“Happy if with my last breath I may but lisp your name,

Preach you to all, and say in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!’”
With this last practical thought I send away my venerable Brothers and Sisters, asking them to take care that their eventide shall be made to glow with the special light of usefulness by their abundant witnessing. I would urge the Lord’s veterans to yet more valorous deeds. If, like David, you have slain the lion and the bear and the Philistine when you were young, up! Do another deed of daring, for the Lord lives, still, and His people have need of you! Though your joints are rather rusty and your limbs can hardly bear you to the battlefield, yet limp to the conflict, for the lame take the prey. He who helped you when you were but a youth and ruddy will help you now though you are old and infirm—and who knows what you may do?

One of the finest paintings I ever saw to move one’s soul was the picture of old Dandolo, the Doge of Venice, leading the way in an attack at sea upon the enemies of the Republic. He was far past the usual age of man and blind—yet, when the efforts of others failed to save his country, he became the leader—and was the first to board the ships of the enemy. The young men felt that they could not hold back when they saw the heroic conduct of the blind, gray-bearded man! His brave example seemed to say, “Soldiers of Venice, will you ever turn your backs?” And the response was worthy of the challenge!

Oh, my honored Brethren, deserving reverence for your years, show us your metal! Let the young ones see how victo- ries are won! Quit yourselves like men and let us see how he who is washed in the blood of Jesus would not hesitate to shed his own blood in the Redeemer’s cause! Your zeal will stimulate us, your courage nerve us and we, too, will be val- iant for the Lord God of Israel! So may God’s Spirit work in you and in us. Amen.


Canning Time

Once each year, my old Granny Morrison of Kentucky would set aside a week for canning. During this time she would take the fresh vegetables and fruits they had grown and put them in jars, and then seal the lid to preserve them. If not sealed properly, in time the lid would pop and the ingredients spoil.

God preserves also, but He has never had one container that did not, or will not, make it to His heavenly table. He seals His children with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit keeps what is committed to Him from spoiling and going bad. The saints’ perseverance is only because of God’s preservation.

Jesus said that both He and His Father keep their sheep, which, He states, are in the hands of them both. They’re sandwiched in, so to speak. This, says our Lord, is why no man is able to pluck them out of their hands. We are clasped between Sovereign hands. 

To suppose that this doctrine leads to careless living is a misconception and misunderstanding of the Holy Scriptures. In every real saint there is heart-holiness. True, a sheep may fall into a mud hole, but it is out of character for it to stay there. It is not its nature! A hog will wallow in the mire and enjoy it, but God’s sheep is miserable until restored to righteousness.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

*Guard Your Heart

“If I know my heart, I could never do that.” Whenever you hear a statement such as this, it is apparent the person making it knows little or nothing of the human heart. Peter, like many before and after him, thought he knew it. He believed others capable of doing atrocious things, but never himself. This is the worse, and most dangerous, of spiritual pride.

The Bible tells us of a deceiver who lives inside each of Adam’s race. We are constantly lied to by him, and what is worse, as Israel of old with its false prophets, we love to have it so. We are not coerced into believing falsehoods about ourselves. We readily consent to it. We allow ourselves to be deceived by ourselves.

Is it any wonder then that the wise man says, “Madness is in their heart while they live.” Have we not learned by now that the liar within always promises good but ends by performing the bad? Only by having a regenerate heart, and yielding unconditionally to the One who gave it, can we be assured it will “…do [us] good and not evil all the days of [our] life.

Whoever rules your heart will decide your outcome.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Faith in the Possible

“…because thou believest not my words.” Zacharias was a priest after the old order, his wife Elisabeth of the daughters of Aaron. They were both righteous, walking before the Lord blameless, but were now old and well stricken in years. They were childless and had prayed for a little one during those years when it was possible for his wife to conceive.  But when it was no longer humanly achievable, they had evidently given up any hope. Thus he questions the angel. This is all made plain by the conversation between Zacharias and Gabriel (Lk.1:5-20).

Earlier in the chapter when Mary was approached by the same angel and told of her conception, she basically asked the same question as Zacharias, but was not reproached for it. Why? Because what was going to happen to her had never been done before in the history of the world. But in the case of Zacharias it had been, in the case of Abraham and Sarah. In other words, he had the Old Testament scriptures and the words spoken to Abraham by the angel, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” The account in Gen 18: 9-14 is almost identical to Luke’s.

How easy it is to flaunt ones faith in the presence of possibilities.But once it enters the realm of the impossible, we seem to leave our faith outside the door. Do we not yet realize, as the little poem says, “God is a tower without a stair, and His perfection loves despair?” It is when we come to the end of self that we find God. The reason God has not yet worked on behalf of many of us is because there is still yet a human possibility. How wonderful when “all hope is taken away.” It is then we can be of good cheer, knowing it shall be even as it was told us! (Acts 27)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Preeminence of Preaching

When writing his young protégé, Timothy, Paul referred to himself first as a preacher, then as an apostle and teacher (1Tim.2:7; 2Tim.1:11). Paul, like his Lord, was preeminently a preacher (Lk.4:18). It seems to me that preaching is basically a calling, whereas teaching has to do with the gifts (Eph.4:11). I tend to believe God calls men to preach, then gifts them for the particular ministry he has for them, evangelist, pastor, teacher, etc. For example, in the latter’s case, he was called first to preach, then gifted as a teacher.

How sad it is today that there are so few real old-fashioned preachers. Yet, at the same time, we seem to have an over-abundance of teachers. This could account for the woeful condition of the Church in our time. I have a little saying: “Preaching gets you right; teaching keeps you right.” I’ve seen few get right with God under a teaching ministry. And I’ve observed there is very little spiritual growth under preaching. The order is preaching, then comes the teaching. To reverse this order is to fill a church with educated sinners.

I remember when the saints used to say to one another, “Let’s go  to preaching.” But now they heap to themselves teachers. Paul admonished young Timothy, “Preach the word.” If you’re a preacher reading this today, then I adjure you by the living God, “PREACH! PREACH! PREACH”! And you, who have been blessed to sit under a real old-time type of preacher, bow your heads and thank God for him. You’re not apt to see his kind again.

  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Courageous or Coward

In Ephesians chapter six, we find God has provided seven pieces of spiritual armour for every Christian warrior. These are to be applied daily by faith. You will notice the greaves for the legs have been replaced by prayer, because our battles are fought on our knees, thus protecting them.

Six of these parts are for defense, and only one (the sword) is offensive. This tells me we are to take more than we dish out. Few, if any of God’s soldiers have ever quit the battle while wielding their swords. It’s when the enemy fights back and the going gets tough that they desert The Captain of their Salvation.

I find the ones who stay the course wind up tough as leather, but the defectors become hard as a rock. And understandingly so, for shame and disgrace follow turncoats wherever they go! By the way, the wise man tells us, “…there is no discharge in that war.”  

If you get knocked down, get up. At least as far as your knees.

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

*Just Do It!

A promise kept is better than a promise made. It takes little if any character to do the latter, but it takes a lot for the first. Jesus’ story of the father who asked his two sons to work in his vineyard bears this out. One promised he would, but didn’t; the other made no such promise, and did. It was the second of these that our Lord commended.

The wise man in Ecclesiastes tells us it is better not to promise than to do so and not keep it. We need to stop talking and start doing. As one of our modern day cliché’s goes, “Just do it.” And even an older one says, “Talk is cheap.” As I used to tell my people when I was a pastor, “I’m gonna’ never done nothin’!”

“Arise [therefore], and be doing, and the LORD be with thee.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Old Man’s Advice

“But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him.” If you’re familiar with the story, you know from this point on Rehoboam’s life began falling apart, becoming a shambles.

Even from a young age I have always sought the advice of older men. It never made sense to me to ask someone on the same road as myself what may lie ahead. I figured asking and listening to someone who had been down that road was the smartest thing to do.

If I could advise our younger generation (as well as some of my well-meaning peers), I would counsel them to cease trying to be “Spiritual.” There is nothing more nauseating, I believe, to God and man, than a man or woman who puts on a spiritual air. It seems important for him or her to always be seen as a “spiritual person.” God forbid he or she ever be considered as a human being.

God’s emphasis is on obedience! If one is that, the Spiritual will take care of itself. “To obey is better_____.” And anything you may fill-in the blank with will not suffice. Saul would have come across as “Spiritual” to most today, but not to God. To Him, he was a disobedient rebel! He knew exactly what God required of him, yet attempted with his “spiritual” substitute to buy off the Lord. But the grand old Book still says, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.

If you act “spiritual,” then you’re an actor.





The Immorality of Unbelief

“But the...unbelieving, and…whoremongers...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Unbelief is a terrible thing. It’s kin to the abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters and liars. Unbelief is immoral. It’s the most serious of all sins. It’s the only thing that damns the soul (Mk. 16:16b).

Christians seem to think that their initial faith in Christ was sufficient for all of life, not realizing that was only the beginning. Our life is to be “from faith to faith.” From start to finish, it’s faith. Paul said, “The life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God.” He said in another place, “The just shall live by faith.” Dear friend, do we not realize “without faith it is impossible to please God”? 

 We do not consider our sins to be as vile as the ones mentioned in our text. But unbelief is as immoral as whoremongering. In the Old Testament, when the people of God ceased to put their faith in the Lord, and turned their backs on Him, the term the Bible uses is “Then were they defiled...and went a whoring.”

“Take heed, brethren, lest their be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Heb.3:12).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Indwelling Sin

Three times in Romans chapter seven the Apostle tells us sin dwells in us. The emphasis today is on the outward results of sin, not the inward reality. It is only that person who understands indwelling sin who is useful to and fruitful for God.

 Our very nature is opposed to God. Every act of sin shows the old nature being antagonistic toward God. No area of our life is secured without a struggle. When we would do good, evil is always there to fight against it. There is a continual civil war going on within each of us, and it will remain so “till death do us part.” This is why we are to, “put no confidence in the flesh.” We are to have a habitual distrust in ourselves.

In our modern day we no longer blame sinfulness, but replace it with “sickness.” We want external reformation, without the Spirit’s internal regeneration. Outward cosmetic surgery will not change the inward condition of the heart. The Puritan, John Owen, dreamed for “a commonwealth of godliness,” but saw it all collapse. The political aspiration he had for his beloved nation burst like soap bubbles. He saw clearly, in the latter part of his life, that the reality of it all was indwelling sin.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When the Hounds Hound You

Shimei cursed David. And what was David’s response? “Let him curse.” David knew that man’s curses are impotent, but God’s blessings are omnipotent. You can’t curse what God has blessed; ask Baalim. If God blesses us, it matters little who curses us. The curser only shows the malice and mischief of his own heart.

The blessings of God do not counterbalance the curses of the foe; they by far outweigh them. David’s principle at such times was, “Let them curse, but bless thou.” God’s chosen vessel always expected a special blessing from God when the cursing started. No wonder David finishes this text in Psalms by saying he would rejoice at such times.

When you’re cursed for being blessed,” bless them that curse you.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Don't Go Back

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”

In this article I’d like to dwell on the practical application of our text rather than its interpretation. If it teaches anything, it teaches the power of the pull of the past. Not only sin attempts to drag us back, but good things. But just because something was blessed and used at a particular time in our lives, is no reason to hold to it.

The past is the ball and chain that keeps most, if not all of us, from moving on to greater heights in our lives. Life is made up of continually letting go. When Moses let go of the thing he was holding to, it was then God began to transform things. He became the man he would never have dreamed possible.

One of my very favorite sayings of Oswald Chambers is, “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.” O, my dear friend, don’t wait till you get to heaven to find out, to your dismay, what you might have been had you let go and let God. The Chinese proverb says, “A thousand mile journey was started with one step.” Will you step out right now? There are new horizons awaiting you if you do!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Loving Life

There are small pockets of dear folk in Christianity who believe and teach that life is simple, and that it should be lived accordingly. I’m sure all believer’s wish it were so, but that is not reality. Life is a paradox. It is both fascinating and perplexing; wonderful yet mysterious. To escape the unpleasantries of life, as Paul wrote…“for then must ye needs go out of the world.”

I told my wife recently while driving how I thanked God He created and chose me to be His own, that He put me on this earth to live among mankind. To think that I may have, but for God’s grace, never existed, being a nonentity, boggles my mind. But living this life without my Maker being central to it, well, as our Lord said, “…good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

Yes, there can be some bitter experiences along life’s journey. But just as Moses put the tree into the bitter waters, making them sweet for God’s people to drink, so we can put Christ into every bitter situation, thereby transforming bitterness into sweetness. As in mixing a cake, many of the ingredients are distasteful when taken separately, but when mixed together, and after enduring the heat, it is a delight

Peter speaks to Christians who “love life.” Well I’m one who does. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

*When He Comes

“Men ought always to pray and not to faint...Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth?” The latter part of our text is not speaking of the whole of Faith, but that of the individual. The context proves this to be so. It’s continual, prevailing, importune prayer that our Lord is drawing our attention to. The old timers referred to it as “prayin’ through.

Jesus tells us that just before His coming there will be a fainting among His elect, rather than an unceasing prayer of faith. There will be a form, but not faith. It will be feigned prayer; that is, play-acting. Our text seems to prove a universal darkness will prevail on earth before the Sun of Righteousness arises in His strength. You know, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” At least, it appears that way to me. Paul’s epistles seem to indicate this also (1Tim.4; 2Tim.3).

No matter what one believes the teaching of the text to be, all must agree that Christ is looking for faith in His followers. He’s not impressed with all the things we try to substitute for it—but, faith itself. And without it, it’s impossible for us to ever please Him; no matter what else we may try to get His attention with.

God heard Elijah because Elijah heard God. (A.W Tozer)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

He’s Lord of the Ship

It is difficult for me to understand people who misunderstand Lordship. It seems like something that is so simple, clear, and settled in Heaven, would not be so hotly debated on earth. He did teach us to pray “...on earth as it is in heaven,” did He not?

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to argue over His Lordship. To me, it is an established fact. I don’t know where the term “Lordship salvation” came from, but that is not the issue. What is plain is that all the major texts in the New Testament on salvation in Jesus Christ always have His Lordship associated with them.

I have seen people go to a so-called “altar” and return to the pew saying they made Jesus Lord of their lives. Preachers and evangelists constantly appeal to their hearers to make Jesus Lord. I’ve listened to long, drawn-out testimonies of how someone was supposedly saved, and, after continuing in sin for years, they finally made Jesus, Lord.

The truth is, no one can make Jesus, Lord. We are told in Acts 2:36, “..that God hath made…Jesus…Lord…” Only a Sovereign God has the right and power to make Him Lord. I can acknowledge Him as such; I can confess Him to be my Lord; but I cannot make Him Lord. He is Lord, no matter what I say, think, or do.

If Jesus Christ is not Lord of the ship I’m on, then I’ve taken the wrong ship.

“[N]o man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” “David in Spirit call[ed] him Lord.”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Four-Hundred and Ninety Times

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

My wife and I were having lunch with our elder son and his lovely wife at a quaint little restaurant, not long ago. During the course of the meal (as is always the case; he’s a pastor), we began discussing the scriptures. I mentioned the above text and how I was fascinated, not so much by the one doing the forgiving, but the sorry person, as I described him that keeps sinning against his brother. Andrew mentioned I should do an article on the subject.

I think all will admit there is something drastically missing in the dispositional makeup of a man or woman who is continually sinning against another and asking forgiveness. But what I do not want to admit is that I am that “sorry person” I was going to write about. It seems as I get older, and go on for the Lord that the biggest part of my prayer time and fellowship is spent in saying, “Forgive me, Lord.” And I thank God the answer has been, and always will be, as long as I am in this flesh, “I freely forgive you all.”

I passed the four-hundred and ninety mark long, long ago, but bless His Holy name, He doesn’t keep score!   

“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” “But [there is] forgiveness with thee.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Try a Little Tenderness

“Deal gently with him for my sake.” Thus said David to Joab concerning Absalom. This is what a father says to his servant concerning his erring son. And I believe the same is true of our Heavenly Father who admonishes His servants to be compassionate in dealing with one of His wayward children.

We are to be “…gentle…as a nurse” and comfort them “…as a father.” They are to be restored “…in the spirit of meekness.” Many times, this type of person does more in helping themselves than the one they’re helping. Another plus side is that the one helped will always carry a tender place in his heart for the “attending physician.”

Binding up another’s wounds can bind two people together, closer than that of an earthly brother or sister. People are not quick to let go of those who get them back on their feet again. “And…the lame man which was healed held Peter and John.”

Deal with others’ shortcomings as God does yours. Both you and they will be better for it .

Monday, March 5, 2012

God, Our Example

“O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all…Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” I had a preacher friend, now in Heaven, who used to say of a younger man he had helped, and who showed no appreciation, “He has a short memory.” I’m afraid many of us have memory lapses when it comes to the goodness God has shown us in the past.

How prone we all are to soon forget God’s gracious dealings with us, when we are dealing with one another. The Lord tells His people in the Old Testament to remember who they were and what He did for them. He admonishes His elect to “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers…” He goes on to say why they could, and should, do this. “…for ye know the heart of a stranger seeing ye were strangers.”

The New Testament’s commentary on these texts is, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. ~Mark Twain

Sunday, March 4, 2012

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. As to what we do with a thing, 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.

“One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up…the moment he starts saying the things (legitimate) are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.” (C. S. Lewis)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Truth Trumps Sincerity

In one of Paul’s epistles he writes of, “Sincerity and truth.” These two words are coupled together one other time in scripture, by the old man Joshua when exhorting Israel, just prior to his home- going. To divorce the latter from the former (leaving only sincerity), leaves a person with only one leg to stand on. And you can be sure, it will not hold you up in the day of accountability.

My old granny used to say, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” That is, to use the Bible term, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Without truth we are simply, sincerely wrong!

If we cannot say to Christ what many sign their letters with, “Sincerely ‘Yours,” then it is a false sincerity. To insincere professors He will say in that last, great day of judgement, “I never knew you.” May God help each of us “to make our calling and election sure.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Instant Christianity

“…and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.” How many are like Esau, who sacrificed the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Carnality always puts the flesh before the Spirit. To such people, the taste of earthly pottage is preferred above heavenly manna.

Our age is characterized by instant gratification. This philosophy has moved into many Christians’ lives, in spite of the fact we are told in the Scriptures that God will honor those who are willing to wait.

A characteristic of children is wanting what they want right now. But by getting what we want now, we’ll lose what we could have had later. I am personally and throughly convinced that true spiritual maturity is seen best in those who are willing to wait.

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”