Saturday, June 30, 2012

*Loaded Down

"[M]y burden is light."  Christ's burden is not burdensome. It is our manufactured, self-imposed ones that weigh us down and cause us to stoop. We are to cast our heavy burden upon Him and take His light burden in exchange. God never intended for us to carry the worries, frustrations, and cares of this world. To do so is to end up like Martha.

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee..." When we are so burdened we cannot go on, to be sure, this is not the burden of the Lord. When God places His burden upon us, it is never more than we can carry. "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Therefore He will not put upon us anything "above that ye are able...to bear."

A little boy, on Christmas Eve, was standing outside a store loaded down with packages. A passerby asked if he could help, to which the lad replied, “No, thank you, sir; my father gave them to me, and he never puts more on me than I can carry.”


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Choice of Crosses

All crosses are of the same shape but not the same substance. Some are made out of coarse materials, others from more delicate. The one thing they do have in common is that they crucify the occupant thereon. Often, the more rugged character gets the latter cross, while the more sensitive individual is fastened to the former.

We can choose to carry our cross, but we cannot pick the kind and type. Jesus had “His” cross. And speaking to the disciples, He told each to take up “his” cross. Each of us has his or her particular cross to bear in life. It is ready-made just for us; it will fit no one else. They compelled Simon of Cyrene to bear Jesus’ cross, yet when they arrived at the Place of the Skull, Jesus was carrying it (Matt. 27:32 cp. John 19:17). Evidently, Simon could not handle it. It was Jesus’ cross to bear, not his.

Those who seem to have the easier way are crucified by the very fact that it is so, craving a harsher manner. While at the same time those desirous of the good life are always feeling the sharp bark from the tree cutting into them. We need to learn, beloved, once for all, although we choose to bear the cross, the decision of what nature of cross it will be lies completely with Him!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Modern Day Repentance

It is generally agreed that Bible repentance means a turning from something to something (or should I say, to “Someone”). I have noticed a strange phenomenon taking place today, especially among the younger generation of contemporary Christians. It’s what I call “one-handed repentance.” Their repentance is incomplete. It only goes half way. It’s what the Old Testament prophet referred to as being “half baked.”

They turn to God on the one hand, while still holding on to things they love but God hates, in the other. They cannot wholly cling to the Lord because one hand is full of their toys. They dare not sing, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy Cross I cling”; for all who know them know they’d be singing a lie. These types have never come to God empty handed.

Paul said of himself, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philip.3:8). He was willing to turn his back on a manure pile to gain the Pearl of Great Price?

It is not what we have given up that keeps us from God’s best; it’s the trifles we are still holding to. “What is that in thine Hand?”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Which Way?

"He shall direct thy paths.” Most certainly, Bible study and prayer should have top priority in seeking God’s direction in our lives, but these are foundational. Other ingredients go into the mix that does not seem to be as “spiritual.” Therefore, many neglect them leaving them confused.

I’m speaking of old-fashioned common sense. You’re not to throw away your head when you get saved. A sanctified mind can take you a long way in ascertaining God’s royal route. The importance of thinking something through cannot be exaggerated. Some are so worried they will take a wrong step; they take no step at all. God can and will correct a wrong decision (if the motive is right), but He can’t do anything if there is no decision at all.

A good illustration of this is found in Acts chapter sixteen. Paul knew you couldn’t take the gospel to the wrong door, so he attempted on two different occasions to go to places he felt were in need. Both times, God stopped him. Then the Lord spoke directly to him, showing the place of His choice.

We’re told in Matthew’s gospel on more than one occasion that when Joseph thought on certain things pertaining to God’s will, the Lord gave him direction. Beloved, let us put on our thinking caps!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Watch Your Step

“Though all men shall…yet will I never…” How little we know of ourselves, not realizing we are capable of anything and everything others do. Spiritual pride is a cancerous condition, to be guarded against continually. It caused Lucifer’s fall and is one of the main marks of a Pharisee. “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.” Is it any wonder we are warned, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” We are least safe when we are most secure.

We need to be cautious of sudden resolutions. We can become over confident in our ability and stability. Peter found talk was easy at a distance, but was more difficult “up close and personal.” I have found over the years that they who are shallowest fall soonest.

Those who think themselves better than others oft time find themselves worse.
(R.D.S)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Devil Deals to David

“And Satan...provoked David.” David’s sin with Bathsheba was a sin of the flesh, but in numbering the people, a sin of the spirit. By this proud act (consciously or unconsciously), David was ascribing to himself might, power, strength and greatness. Attributes that belong to God alone. God promised Abraham the people would be so great they could not be numbered. So why bother?

Numbering the people was not the real issue; doing it without orders from God was. It was an independent act that caused Lucifer’s fall, and this is what he successfully tempted Eve to do. But when he came to the Lord Jesus, he failed miserably. For this blessed One refused to take a breath without God’s permission.

When we attempt to flex our spiritual muscle before those around us by showing our spiritual superiority, you can be sure Satan is in the shadows egging us on. When the devil deals the cards, it’s always from the bottom.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Simple Life

When I speak of the “Simple Life,” I am not advocating being a simpleton. As Oswald Chambers puts it, “Don’t mistake simplicity for stupidity.” It is not simplemindedness, but “simple- mindfulness.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, Letters and Papers from Prison” tells us, “Simplicity is an intellectual achievement, one of the greatest.” The simple life requires a lot of thought.

Our Lord’s life was a very simple one in the midst of a complicated world. You might say His was a simple life on a higher plane. The reason for this was that God controlled it. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “Simplicity is life’s most becoming garb.” Is this not why His life is so becoming to each of us who name His name?

Many of us have created our own clutter. We have a spiritual “junk yard,” where we have amassed so much litter that we can’t perform those few necessary things for all the unnecessary piled up. Many of us need a good housecleaning. Good minor things become bad the second they keep us from the major things.

Paul warned the “spiritual” and “intellectual” church at Corinth to beware lest their minds be corrupted from the “simplicity that is in Christ.” Our lives are to be lived childlike. Need I explain that?

God grant that I may live upon this earth
And face the tasks that every morning brings
And never lose the glory and the worth
Of humble service and the simple things.
(Edgar A. Guest)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Scarecrows

I have found that those who would intimidate others have an insecure spirit that hides behind a superior attitude. You need not ever be afraid of them. They are no more than scarecrows. You know, dressed in clothes like you and me, but who are full of straw. These empty vessels have always been around. Sanballat tried to spook Nehemiah; Rabshakeh tried it on Hezekiah; Jezebel attempted the same on Elijah, and the interrogating counsel on the disciples.

It is this crowd that was constantly after Jesus, snipping, as it were, at His heels. Everything concerning His Person, they attacked—His speech, lack of formal education, His trade as a carpenter, His birth, etc. But Jesus had the one thing that all intimidators fear to see in their would-be prey; He knew who He was. He was, as the saying goes, “comfortable in His own skin.” It did not bother Him to get down and wash the disciples feet, for He knew no matter what the position, whether in exaltation or humiliation, He was the same Person within. Intimidators have no clue as to their personal identity.

Therefore, we should never fear man. Why should clay be afraid of clay?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

HIS PLACE

The story’s told that during the days of that great English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, Londoners who wanted to hear this orator would say, “Let’s go over to Charlie’s place.” Of course they were not referring so much to the Metropolitan Tabernacle where he ministered, but rather to the fact that is where they’d find him.

Just before our Lord went away, twice He mentioned “a place” He was going to prepare, and that He would be in that place, and that His people would be with Him in that place. There is much talk and speculation about what Heaven is like, almost to the extent that Jesus becomes a non-entity. It’s not the place, it’s the Person!

We hear talk of soul-sleep for a Christian, that is, the intermediate state between death and resurrection. But Paul tells us our soul can only be in one of two places: in the body or with the Lord. And the second necessitates a consciousness as much as the first. When Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him that very day in Paradise, he had to be conscious to realize the fact.

If all of this were not so, our Lord declares, “I would have told you so,” Someday, possibly in the near future, I’ll be going to “His Place.” And I can guarantee you, I for one will not be “looking the place over.” It is not the gates of pearl, the streets of gold, the river of life, or even the face of my blessed mother that I’ll be looking for, but the Altogether Lovely One, the Lover of my Soul, the “One” who gave His all for me!

In closing, I’d remind those who are prone to spiritualize such truths that the reality is always greater than the picture. So, whatever way you slice it, it’s going to be wonderful!

  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Money Talks

"The labourer is worthy of his hire." Being cheap is not Christ-like. Many churches and Christians need to realize this. Each laborer is to get what he or she is due, and sometimes double.

James tells us of those who kept back part of the hire of the laborers and how it "entered into the ears of the Lord." We are told that stones cry out, and that Abel's blood cried out from the ground. Well, in this case, money talks! Stolen salaries will not remain silent, for, in the courtroom of God, wages kept back will be a witness.

I've seen many churches and Christian institutions "rob Peter to pay Paul." For instance, some boast of how much they give to missions, while there are those on their staff who seriously lack. I have known cases where the missionary lived in luxury and the staff member in poverty. Charity begins at home. How many will have to someday sadly confess before God that they kept other's vineyards while neglecting their own (Song of Sol. 1:6).

Don't give a Believer crumbs when you have steaks in your freezer.
(R.D.S)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Medicine for Misery

One of the reasons for the misery in the lives of many of today’s saints stems from the simple fact of not discerning between a healthy self-judgment and a morbid introspection. The former is when we agree with God’s estimation of something in our lives that displeases Him. At such times, we are to confess, repent, and then, as a transit, move on. In the latter, we take up lodging and dwell in a spiritual mortuary, daily inspecting a putrefying corpse.

Introspection is putting self on a plate and dissecting it, always analyzing oneself. We worry about everything we say or do and what affect each word or action may have. We’re always looking back—always regretting. We can’t let go of it. It is the chief theme of our lives. Everything centers upon us. We are forever telling others about our sins and shortcomings, while they patiently listen with a frown on their faces and disgust in their hearts.

Through the years, I have become more and more leery of those who habitually talk of wanting to be holy and godly. If I read my Bible right, we are to be spending our time speaking and thinking of Him and His attributes (Mal.3:16) not on imaginary fantasies of our own creation. To glorify God is to make Him look good, not ourselves.

If man at his best state is altogether vanity, then let’s call attention to the Altogether Lovely One.
(RDS)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Personal Note To My Blog Readers

Dear Reader,

Just recently I discovered the Stats section on my blog. To my overwhelming surprise I found that in the month I checked it, I had over one thousand hits. What a blessing this was to me. I send out the Journal to a mailing list of a few hundred, but never dreamed we had this kind of audience.

The following is a list of the places where the T.J. is read: Canada, Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, France, U.K., Indonesia, Romania, Poland, New Zealand, Philippines, Ukraine, Netherlands, Tonga, Malaysia, and of course, the U.S.A.

My request is that many of you might drop me a brief line or two telling of the Journal’s blessing in your life, if it be so. As I jokingly say to some of my strong local church brethren at times, “I minister to the “Invisible Church.” Seriously, though, I miss seeing people grow in the Lord and their lives blessed, as I did when pastoring. So a note from you would be a great encouragement to this aged man. My e-mail: (click on) todaysjournal@sbcglobal.net

Thanks For Taking The Time,

An Old Disciple,

Brother Richard Sandlin

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Sure Word

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” There is a type of mysticism that has moved into mainstream Christendom that concerns me greatly. Basically, it teaches that one can go from infancy to maturity without any growth in between, thereby negating the Bible as the means God uses to get from one place to the other. Those with mystical tendencies never speak of the necessity of the Word of God, but, rather, glory in their personal experiences. In other words, they short cut the God-ordained means for their individual experiences.

These types have a God of their own making. Their created Deity is characteristically known by feeling, not faith. Because of this, there is a necessity of constantly scraping their “innards” by morbid introspection. There is a habitual examining of every motive and action, leaving them very little time to live the Christian life.

The infallible Word of God is the only safeguard against one’s fallible feelings. It is the one and only source that the prophets, apostles, Jesus, and New Testament writers depended on. Peter had an experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration, where he heard a voice from Heaven. Yet when recounting this event in his second epistle, he says we have “a more sure word…” (The Word of God). And so do we!                                                           

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Backsliding Heifer

Note to readers: I feel the following article is of upmost importance, especially today. As a dear pastor friend (James Barnes) said to me many years ago, “Brother Sandlin, what passes for my best members today would be considered backsliders twenty-five years ago.”

“For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer.” Some believe this to mean withdrawing the neck from the yoke of service; still others that it is a regressing when being offered up for sacrifice. To be sure, the heifer is not submitting to what her master has planned for her. God is simply telling us that His people were unruly and ungovernable.

The word “backsliding” (in one form or another), is found seventeen times in the Old Testament. It is not used in the New, though the principle is. Oswald Chambers gives us a good definition of the word: “Backsliding is turning away from what we know to be best to what we know is second-best.” Or as another prolific writer says, “Good can be the enemy of the best."

Whenever we go from God we go to something or someone else. The backslider deliberately forsakes God. There is no nice way of putting it. It is a hideous sin! And the depth to which the backslider falls will be in proportion to the height he or she has gained. Lucifer’s original lofty height is a good example of the depth one can fall to spiritually.

An old preacher once said, “Never paint a picture of a forest without painting a way out.” And so I close with God’s promise to all those in this dire condition who are longing to return to the Lover of their souls, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Great Things of the Lord

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness”...“Tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.”

Rosalind Goforth was the wife of that remarkable missionary to China, Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936). In her book entitled, How I Know God Answers Prayer, The Personal Testimony of One Life-Time, the above two scriptures are found in the forward.

Upon reading them I was immediately struck by the fact that this is what we are to busy ourselves with. Telling hopeless individuals, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” To which they can echo, “The Lord hath done great things for them.”

Some, said Mrs. Goforth, after reading her book asked, “How could you tell such personal and sacred incidents in your life?’ Her answer was simple and direct, “I had to or disobey God.” She writes that for some time she wouldn’t tell these things, but got to the place she could no longer keep them in.

Jeremiah had a similar experience I think many of us can relate to also. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay].”

Our Great God, who does such “Great Things,” ought not to be kept a secret by us.
(R.D.S.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's Been Before

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."

The new truths ministers and writers are coming up with are, in reality, no more than unsubstantiated, unchallenged statements.  These pseudo-philosophers, who camp on Mars Hill, "spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." But Paul's testimony was that he said no other things than those truths of old spoken by the prophets.

Something may sound profound, but is it of the prophets? It may appear learned, but is it of the Law? It may be a new thought, but is it New Testament? Paul was not against dressing old truths in new clothes, but there was no attire in his wardrobe to clothe what some call "new truths."

If it's new, it's not true; and if it's true, it's not new.
(H.A. Ironside)


Friday, June 8, 2012

A Delightful Day

It was June 8, 1958. They were singing a song of invitation. Mark Andrews, my Air Force buddy from Korea, who had gotten saved, and then been instrumental in my conversion (as well as my mother’s), was visiting, and standing next to me. I knew from the day of my salvation, God wanted me to preach, but was always fearful to make it known. We were standing in the back row of the church. Some 800 people were there that day. As they sang, I whispered to Mark, “I believe God has called me to preach, but I can’t speak well before people.” My dear friend said nothing. He simply put down his songbook, took up his Bible, and turned to Exodus 4:10-12. Then he handed it to me, saying, “Read this.”

“And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not
 eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken
 unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow
tongue. And the Lord said unto him,Who hath made man’s
mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing,
 or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I
will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

Needless to say, that was all it took. I went forward, took my pastor’s hand, and told him God had called me to preach. It has now been fifty-four years since that memorable day, and I’ve never regretted my decision once. There have been dark, dark times; but the good ones have shone so brightly, they made me forget most of bad ones. Multiplied hundreds have been saved, countless Christians have had their lives turned around, and scores of young people have entered the ministry.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your call upon my life, and thank you for bringing Mark into it at the two most important times—at my conversion and my call. Wherever he is, whatever he may be doing, give him an extra blessing today, just for me. Thank you. Amen.

 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Living Among Lepers

“And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him...And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” I fear some of us have gotten too refined for this life on earth. True, a saint is a mixture of the Divine and human, but the human is never anything but human. God chose to reach humanity by indwelling the human. This is seen in the Incarnation.

You can always spot the “holier than thou” crowd. You’ll hear such statements as “How could anyone do something like that?” or, “I could never do that.” Not realizing that in the right situation, we all are susceptible to the same depravities of others. Peter never thought himself capable of what he did, but believed others were. Such an attitude always leads to a fall.

These high and holy seraphic types are powerless in helping lepers. O, they have compassion, but only at a distance. They will never come to where they are; they fear it may rub off.

Jesus was no worse off for touching the leper, but the leper was much better off because He did.”
RDS)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Square One

There are different opinions as to where and when this little idiom in our title originated, but all agree to its meaning. It’s simply defined as “going back to the beginning, to start again.” This is necessitated by our proneness to wander; to go our own way, if you please. As someone has said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Because of this disposition to stray, God is constantly calling us back (dragging some) to His original intent for us. And this is true, not just in one area of our Christian life, but in all quarters. I believe most of the reason for this roaming is our not being objective enough in our reading, listening to teachers and our conversations in general.

Don’t you think much of this stems from our discontentment with God’s will for us? Many routinely want to be someone else, somewhere else, and doing something else. Thus, we are so easily influenced away from God’s design for our lives. The proverbial saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side,” must have originated with a Christian, one of His sheep.

It says of the prodigal, “When he came to himself,” he returned to the starting place. He, “Himself.” Not someone else!” Don’t try to return in someone else’s garb!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Foundational Truths

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” When things begin to get hazy, and all around you is uncertainty; when the atmosphere is filled with questionable arguments, it is always wise to come back to your foundation. To major on minors will only bring frustration and cause unnecessary divisions between two good people or groups.

A casual reading of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians proves this to be so. Secondary things were elevated to top priority. And when we put two in the place of one, it will always cause greater confusion, as any math student knows. There are basic, fundamental doctrines that are foundational to the Christian Faith. And when we leave these tenets, terrible things happen.

There are cardinal Christian doctrines that have been held to throughout the ages, which have never moved or been shaken. It is these we are to dearly hold to and defend. To make questionable things the issue will only rob the saints of their assurance, reliance, and enjoyment of the sure things.

Happy is the person who realizes non-essentials are not essential.
(R.D.S)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Imperfection's Perfection

Immediately after the resurrection Thomas saw the open wounds in our Lord’s body. John was transported to the present and described Him now in heaven as a freshly slain Lamb. And Zechariah tells us at His Second Coming, yet future, He will be asked, “What are these wounds in thy hands?” At the cost of being misunderstood as sacrilegious, I believe Jesus will be the only one in heaven with an imperfect body. That is, from our viewpoint, not God’s. For in God’s sight, those wounds are the epitome of perfection.

You see, this Blessed One’s seemingly imperfect body made it possible for us to have a perfect one. Is it any wonder then that the heavenly choir sings, “Worthy is the Lamb”? Apart from God’s glory, everything He ever did, and does, was and is, for our benefit, and ours alone. I like how Paul puts it: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Hallelujah, what a wonderful Saviour!