Monday, April 30, 2012

It's the Face in the Mirror

“Wilt thou not revive us again..?” “...revive thy work.” “...thou wilt revive me.” There is a national, institutional, and personal revival. Great masses are praying for the first, some for the second, but few for the latter. There is debate as to the probability of the first; a number will concede to the second; but all agree that the third can be had. It’s doubtful the first two will ever happen until the third is experienced. You generally start a fire with one match or an individual spark.

Why is it we pray for national and institutional revival, but not a personal one? Oswald Chambers answers this question profoundly. He states, “A revival adds nothing; it simply brings back what had been lost and a confession of failure.” And here lies our problem. We are more than willing, in our self-righteous pride, to say that others need reviving, but never us, for that would be an admission that we are not as close to the Lord as we would like others to believe we are.

The prayer that brings personal revival is, “It’s not my brother, or my sister, but me, O Lord.”
(RDS)


Saturday, April 28, 2012

*Faith's Consolation

I have a little plaque on my dresser which reads, “Faith isn’t faith till it’s all you’re holding onto!” The Bible says, “…from faith to faith.” We start our Christian lives with it, and we are to end with it. And all in between is to be governed by it, for we are told, “…the just shall live by faith.” And without it, “…it is impossible to please [God].”

The Scriptures say we are to “…walk by faith.” And what are we to do when too weak and frail to any longer do this? It is then we are to “…stand by faith.” Like the patriarch of old, “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed…and worshipped, leaning upon his staff.” And when the old man could no longer do this, “…he gathered his feet into his bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.”

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” (Heb.11:13-14)

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's Never Too Late

“Lord, if thou hadst been here...” Both Mary and Martha were deeply hurt and perplexed at their brother’s death. During such times, it is easy to play the blame game. It all did not make sense. Was not Lazarus he whom Jesus loved? Was he not His friend? In effect, they charged Jesus with all that had happened. Why did He not come while there was something possible that could be done? Why wait until the situation became impossible?

Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Our Lord’s delays are not necessarily denials. There was Divine design to all that was happening. At such times, it requires patience and trust on our part. We need to learn to trust God in the dark.

“What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” It is texts such as this that we must sink our spiritual teeth into during the tough times. Once we have eaten and assimilated it by faith, it becomes sweet to the soul and strength to the life.

Mary and Martha were concerned with Lazarus and his sickness. Jesus was concerned with Lazarus and the glory of God.
(R.D.S)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

*It' a No-Win Situation

“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” Webster’s definition of “strive” is: 1) to make great effort; try very hard, and 2) to struggle. I heard an old camp meeting preacher say once, “Whenever you read the word, ‘Woe’ in the Bible, you’d better stop.” When will we learn to stop fighting God? Do we not realize, no man ever got into the ring with God and won the fight? Ask Jacob as he limps along.

There is no prospering as long as we try to resist Him. “…who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” Mighty Pharaoh certainly didn’t. To fight God makes us look so foolish. Paul talks about one that “…beateth the air.” If we fought the world, the flesh, and the devil like we often fight God, what victorious Christians we would be.

If we want to be changed from what we are unto a prince with God, then we’ll need to stop fighting God and surrender, lying prostrate at His feet, simply clinging to Him. Why go through life with two black eyes?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

*Yesterday's Faith

“Ye walk, and are sad.” Why? They were walking with their risen Lord. My elder son has a saying: “All the Bible for all of life.” They did not believe the Old Testament. They accepted it in part, like many of us do today. Those parts that suit our prejudice, taste, and notions. But they failed to believe all the prophets had spoken, particularly concerning His atoning death and resurrection. They saw a glorious Kingdom but not a gory death.

They did not expect the Lord to fulfill His promise. The third day, of which He had spoken, was not yet ended. They had a “has been” faith—a “yesterday’s” faith. Notice such past tense phrases as, “We trusted that it had been...” and “should have...” prove this. They did not give God time to fulfill His promise. When He made them the promise, they apparently did not set their watches by it. The Lord is never late. It always comes to pass in His good time. Hold to the promise, dear friend; your third day has not come to an end yet!

Don’t be discouraged, there can’t be a resurrection till there is a death.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

*Inconvenienced

"...when I have found a convenient season..." Felix, like Herod and Judas, was a man of convenience. But I would suggest, if you are looking for a convenient lifestyle, you should not consider becoming a Christian. Christianity can be a very inconvenient thing at times. For example, opening one's home at all hours of the night (sometimes to strangers) is neither convenient for the host or hostess. Giving to another what you have set aside for you and your son, watching an elderly shut-in to give their loved ones a little time to themselves, and sitting aside your leisure time to busy yourself in helping the hurting, is anything but the convenient thing to do.

As I get older, I find I do not like to be inconvenienced. As they say, I like all my ducks in a row. Or to put it another way, "Don't rock the boat." But I'm reminded over and again by the sweet Spirit of God that cross-bearing is not convenient. After a long, hard day, Jesus took time with Nicodemus at nightfall. Although His sufferings were imminent, He had a meal with his sad friends. And He didn't mind being awakened from a restful sleep to help those in a storm. Let each of us remember, He left us an example to follow. Jesus always went out of His way to help others; ask the woman at the well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

*Lasting Joy

Jesus said, “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” The power to work wonders and to perform miracles can be counterfeited. But to forge one’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life is an impossibility. Those names have been written by the hand of Almighty God with a pen dipped in the eternal, indelible blood of His Son. And He promised, “I will not blot out his name out the book of life.”

Our chief joy should be that our names have been in His book from the foundation of the world, that God has numbered us among His people, and that we have a title deed to everlasting life. Being a citizen of Heaven can bring greater joy than all the thrills of this earth. When we have been stripped of all our earthly joys, we can still say with Habakkuk of old, “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal. (Thomas Moore)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Universal Sin: WORRY!

“Be careful (full of care) for nothing.” It is possible for the legitimate concerns of life, like in Martha’s case, where an over-concern by over-emphasizing, to become an almost paralyzing anxiety.  Worry holds one like a vice so that you can hardly move or think of anything other than the problem before you. A problem which, more often than not, was created by us. We’re good at turning simple molehills into mountains.

Worry is a universal sin; there is none among Adam’s race it has not touched. Some more severely than others, but all experience it to some degree. If the devil cannot make our lives fruitless by tempting us to worldly debauchery, then he will get us by debilitating worries (Matt.13:22). “The Liar” will tell us our worrying is simply a hereditary habit of weakness and not sin. But Jesus tells us it is what the pagans do, and that we are not to emulate the heathen in their wicked distrust of God.

We cannot trust and worry at the same time. We’re told in scripture that sweet and bitter water does not flow from the same fountain. And so it is with trust and worry. These two cannot sleep in the same bed. They are not strange bedfellows; they are not bedfellows at all. Once trust gets into bed, he kicks worry out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

*Know Thyself

“…for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?” David was secure in his position. He could not be provoked into proving it. He did not have to bully it over others; he knew it within himself. God has a way of vindicating His man or woman by humbling stone-throwing Shimei’s before them. We do not have to flex our spiritual muscle; God is our “Muscle-man!”

As Matthew Henry says, quoting a Latin proverb, “It suffices the lion that he has laid his victim prostrate.” Whenever God wants to humiliate those who abuse and misuse us, He does it by raising us up and bringing them down. Mordecai and Haman are good examples of this.

It is not important that others know who we are, but it is for us. (RDS)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hide-and-Seek

“…the Lord hideth his face…I will look for him.”  When our four children were young, on family nights we would often play hide-and-seek. I always chose the darkest spot, because I knew each child’s fear of entering into such a place. But, in spite of this, they would still boldly venture into the dreaded area, because they knew they could find me there. It was a thrill for them to find the others, but it was a special joy to find their father. That was always apparent by their cheerful countenance when I came from the dark shadows.

For one reason or the other, our Heavenly Father hides Himself, from time to time, from His children. During such intervals, we are to diligently seek Him. Seeming discouragement can be turned into encouragement, if we look for Him aright. His promise to us is, “…ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

*Last Things

“Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” This quote is from the last book, the last chapter, next to the last verse, the last promise, and the last prayer of the Bible. It is also the last words recorded of Jesus and John. Our lovely Savior is speaking here to His lonely saint.

There has been much unkind insinuation toward those who differ in their views of this end-time book. All the bitter dispute and controversy about how He is coming should be laid aside for the fact of His coming. Those who have formed unbridled fancies about His return, assuming their self-confidence makes them infallible and omniscient, may be in for a rude awakening. I think, at His coming, many dogmatists will end up in the doghouse!

Much of this book of prophecy will probably never be understood fully until reviewed in Glory “For [now] we know in part, and we prophecy in part…but [then] shall I know…”

“Come, Lord Jesus,” should be pre-eminent in all our prayers.

                                                                          

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

*He’s Not a Casual Acquaintance

One of Job’s three fair-weather friends admonishes, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” This is always good advice, no matter whose lips it falls from. We should always be thankful for those who lead us into a deeper knowledge of God, no matter what group they belong to.

A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great knowledge about Him. Someone has said, “When people know God, losses and crosses cease to matter to them; what they have gained simply banishes those things from their minds.” To know God is to experience peace that passes understanding, and good is the ultimate dessert.

J.I. Packer says, “John Calvin knew more theology than John Bunyan, but the latter knew his God every bit as well as the former.” Both the intellect and the illiterate can know God alike, for He is no respecter of persons. It is humbling to think we are known of God; it is awesome to think we can know God.

Keep close company with Jesus, and it will not be long before you get to know God better.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Have You Done Your Part?

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” The “which” refers back to the “do.” It is not “who,” as in many translations, but “which,” as in the K.J.V. It is in the doing that we are strengthened. This was Paul’s teaching to young Timothy when he exhorted him to “…exercise thyself…unto godliness.” Anyone who does this will, over time, build spiritual muscle. As the old song puts it, “Each victory will help you some other to win.”

Notice, also, we are to do these things “through Christ.” It is not Christ doing things through us, as is so often taught. You will be hard pressed to find any such Scripture proof. We are to come by way of Him, not vice-versa. Sanctification is cooperation; it’s a two-way street. It is not “I” without “Christ.”  It is not “Christ,” without “I.” It is “I” with “Christ.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Many Christians today have become spiritually syrupy in their Christian walk. It seems, with all the talk about the deeper, victorious, overcoming life, we have lost our way. J.I. Packer said,” I have found the best way to face temptation is to simply say, “No,” and ask Christ to help me to keep saying it till it passes.

If you do your part, you can be sure God will do His.

                                                                   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

*Threats from the Threatened

“But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.” A preaching that gets a man on his feet so he can walk independently of others will always be a threat to the religious legalist. They will go to any extent to silence such a ministry. But their threatenings do not intimidate a man who has witnessed cripples who crawled in the dust, now walking in newness of life. Rules do not strengthen a man’s spiritual feet and anklebones. It’s not rules, but a relationship with God that puts a man back on his feet.

There is a movement going on today in which people are entering into the“glorious liberty" that is in Jesus Christ. This is a great threat to the boring boards, and one-man shows, that want the control over God’s people. They are trying to put a cap on this freedom “that it spread no further,” but, from my observation, it’s too late. It’s going to be a “gusher” that spills over into every group and corner of Christendom.

There is no need for “popes,” when you believe in the priesthood of all believers.

Friday, April 13, 2012

When God Waits

“God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing...” Many of us find difficulty in waiting on God, but what do you think it is like for Him to wait for us? This is the One of whom it is written, “For he spake and it was done.” God is eternally instantaneous. But He does not generally work independent of us; He works in cooperation with us. Not because He needs to, but because that’s what He chooses.

Like a father is longsuffering when seeing his unskilled child assembling a Tinker Toy, so God patiently waits for us to get things together. Our whole lives are spent in preparation of one thing or another, but, unlike God, ours never seem to be completed. After the completion, then another awaits that demands our attention. Therefore, time and patience in preparation is a necessity for us. We need to remember, no time spent in preparation is wasted.

“If God’s longsuffering and patience waited one-hundred and twenty years as Noah was preparing, I’m sure he’ll wait a few more years for you and me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The God Who Speaks

“They have mouths, but they speak not.” Twice, the Psalmist gives the exact same words in describing the god[s] of the heathen. The phrase, “God said,” is found some 587 times in the Bible. This is not counting other kindred expressions such as: “Thus saith the Lord,” “God spake,” etc.

A preacher brought a message on “God Still Speaks.” One of those doctrinally sound, but spiritually inept theologians approached him with the standard question that characterizes those deaf to God’s voice by filling their ears with cotton. The query was, “Do you not realize God no longer speaks directly to His people?” To which my friend, while looking him straight in the eyes, quoted a portion of a song, “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His Own.” Then he abruptly turned and walked away.

Many today, are like Israel of old, when speaking to Moses said, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us.” Why? Simply because they knew if they heard God’s voice they would have to either obey Him, or refuse to do what He said. As Oswald Chambers put it, “If it is only the servant’s voice we hear, we feel it is not imperative; we can say, “Well, that is simply your own idea.”

It takes a humble child-like spirit to say, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” As important as it is to go to the Word, it’s equally important that the Word of the Lord comes unto us. When is the last time God spoke to your heart?

“Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak Lord,’ and life will become a romance.” (Oswald Chambers)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Categorization of God

I have spent much time in both pondering and discussing with those who don thinking caps how one would characterize our particular generation of professing Christians. My personal depiction of it, if it be worth anything, and if asked, would simply be to boil it down to four words, “The Categorization of God.”

God, it seems to me, is no longer the whole of the Christian’s life, but rather only a part of his or her life. They fit Him into their things-to-do list, like going to the grocery, dropping off their cleaning, getting the car filled with gas, and showing up at church each week. It is like their lives are divided into rooms. When leaving the one, they close the door to the previous, until next time.

This, no doubt, answers the question as to why there lacks conviction when they commit such sins as adultery, drunkenness, drugs, etc. That is another room, not the one which they are in presently. Each room is a life of its own, and whatever happens in that particular room stays in that room and is separate and independent of the others. Wherever they are, whatever they do, and whoever they’re with, they are always in character.

I think C.S. Lewis sums up best what I have been attempting to get across. He speaks of those who have a “tame God.” He goes on to describe their lives as those who, “can switch it on when they want, but it will not bother them. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost…it is the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has ever seen.”  

Monday, April 9, 2012

*When the Camel's Back Breaks

“[In]…our troublewe were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth up the dead.”

We’re not told exactly what this “trouble” was, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. But we do know it was above and beyond the normalcy of everyday Christian trials. So much so that this suffering saint “despaired even of life.” This unknown and unique experience brought the apostle to the place of utter helplessness.

It’s well to remember that this human beast of burden had borne the heaviest of loads all his life. But this one weighed him down to the extent that it could be said, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What are we to do at such a time of hopelessness? We can emulate Paul. He passed sentence on all fleshly confidence, letting it become history. And, in exchange, he put all his trust in the God who “…raiseth up all those that are bowed down.”

God tells us to burden him with whatever burdens us.

Friday, April 6, 2012

THE GREAT CELEBRATION

“The father said to his servants… bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again.”

If you think there were festivities in the father's house at the return of the  Prodigal Son, what think ye the merriment in “The Father’s House” at the homecoming of His Precious Son?  The One who had left Heaven as the “Son of God,” and returned home with an added precious identity: “The Son of Man.”   

When Christ left the dead I can imagine the voice of the Father crying out with such jubilance that it reverberated throughout the galaxies, “My Son is coming home!” We celebrate His Resurrection from “down under,” but oh, what must be the unspeakable ecstasy from Heaven’s side!

When Jesus left for Home, one of the last things He promised His followers was, “I’ll keep the door open for you.” And one of the first things He experienced upon His return home was “Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” of saints and angels saying,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever”.

And what did His Father say to Him, but of course, what else, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The heavens with joy receive their Lord,
By saints, by angel hosts adored;
O day of exultation!
O earth, adore thy glorious King!
His rising, His ascension sing
With grateful adoration.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Child-Like Forgiveness

“Except ye…become as little children.” Years ago, while in my early twenties, and before my conversion to Christ, I studied acting for a brief time at a dramatic school in Los Angeles. One of the principles my drama coach emphasized was that an actor should have the head of an adult but the heart of a child. One class assignment was to observe and study the habits of children.

Among the many characteristics that little children have and has always moved me, especially now that I am converted, is how forgiving they are. As a father of four, I remember when my children were still little tykes, and I would have to ask their forgiveness for dumb things I had done or said. Each time, I remember those little innocent faces looking up to me, and with their assuring, childish words letting me know all was well.

Maybe it is time for some of us parents who have now been asked for our forgiveness by our children to “Go, and do thou likewise.” Yes, they are grown now and responsible for what they have done, but so were we. What brought us relief and inner joy will bring them the same thing, now that they are in our place as adults. The apostle’s words are appropriate hear: “…ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore, I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”

Repentance can be bitterness to the soul, but the forgiveness that follows makes it sweet!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Satan’s Boundary Lines

“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power: only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” Satan is on God’s leash; he can only go so far. God has appointed bounds, both to the degree and duration of Satan’s trials. His two-fold lie during these testing times is you will not be able to bear up under such a load, and this is the way it will always be; there is no end. But the enlightened child of God knows the Scripture has given us a two-fold promise to combat these. “God...will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able,” the second being, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.”

We have a secure hedge about us, and Satan can only enter in by permission. Our Sovereign has put restrictions and limitations upon the devil when it comes to us. This hedge is the will of God, and we are safe and secure within it, even when God grants permission to the Wicked One to try us for a season.

But let us be careful that we do not leave our safety zone, for, without that hedge, we are fair game. “...whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” If you have left the fold, and have been bitten, there is hope. His venomous bite need not be lethal (cp. Num.21:8,9 and Jno.3:14,15).

“Like a good chess player Satan is always trying to manoeuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.” C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

But Do You Love Me?

“Jesus saith… lovest thou me?..He saith to him again the second time…lovest thou me?.. He saith unto him the third time…lovest thou me?

Three times at the enemy’s fire, Simon had denied Him, now sitting at the fire Jesus had kindled, he is asked thrice by his Lord, “Lovest thou me?” Peter’s great doctrinal confession of faith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” is now complete with this great devotional statement of faith, “I love thee.” The two have met together and kissed each other. (Psl.85:10)

It seems to me, for all practical purposes, Jesus likes to be told He’s loved. It is not to be taken for granted, as we often do with loved ones. For we also, like Simon, when asked by a family member or friend, “Do you love me? answer, “You know I love you.” God’s darling David did not have this problem, “I love the Lord,” was his unblushing testimony for all to hear and read!

And what is to be the proof of Simon Peter’s love to Christ? That he takes care of both God’s lambs (young) and sheep (mature). Paul writes believers of his day admonishing them to prove their love, and explains the proof is seen when taking care of each other. Is this not our Lord’s teaching when He said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me?”

“Believest thou me” is the base of the mountain; “Lovest thou me” is the pinnacle!

Monday, April 2, 2012

*When the Unanswerable is Answered

“…now I know in part; but then shall I know…” As Jesus told Peter, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” We must not spend our time vainly trying to understand “The secret things belong[ing] unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong[ing] unto us and to our children…”

If we are to live a life of contentment, we must then be content with not knowing certain things. There will always be unanswered questions. Our knowledge is incomplete and partial, at best. And to turn to speculation will only bring frustration. There is a portion of two songs I like to hang my doubting hat on: “Someday, He’ll make it plain to me, someday when I His face shall see”; and the second: “I’ll ask the reason, He’ll tell me why, when we talk it over in the bye and bye.” Until then, the writer of Hebrews says, Now faith…”

Dedicated to suffering saints everywhere.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Equal Yoke

“Take my yoke upon you…For my yoke is easy.” This is not like any other yoke in Scripture. It is not a “yoke of iron,” nor a “heavy yoke,” or is it a “yoke of bondage.” But it is an easy yoke to bear up under. The reason being that the One we are harnessing ourselves with “fainteth not, neither is weary.” This One whose name is called “Wonderful” carries the world upon His shoulders.

Therefore, when we bind ourselves to God’s Strong Servant we are exchanging our weak, feeble strength for His. This is truly Divine fellowship. To unite ourselves with any other is an “unequal yoke.” But when we join ourselves to Him that, my friend, is what we might call an equal yoke. For one of the main reasons He became like us was that He might help each of us pull the load of life.

You don’t have “pull your weight” when you’re yoked with Jesus.