Thursday, September 27, 2012

Self-Confidence

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Hour of Prayer

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

First and Then

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time Heals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making Beds

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

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Silence of God

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Second Sight

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Critics of the Godly

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Opportunity Doesn't Knock Twice

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

*Inside Your Armour

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

*To Be or Not To Be

Shakespeare’s To be or Not To Be is still a relevant question, especially among God’s people. Today, whether it be the local paper, or local pulpit, it seems what you do is more important than who you are.

The “how-to” books promote doing, not being. We do not want to take the time to become some-one. We are too busy doing some-thing. God is preeminently interested in who we are. The world and religion, is only impressed by what we have accomplished.

“Being” is so important because it flavor all we do. This is why, when God judges His people according to their works, it will not be on the basis of what size it was, but “what sort it was.” What we have done will be traced back to who we are. All works are birthed in motive.

My dear friends, when I stand before my God, I care not if my spiritual resume is void of great accomplishments; but I do pray it will say, “He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Don't Catch That Ball

Several years ago, my older son, Andrew, presented me with a small paperback book entitled, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.” It is packed full of a variety of thoughts intended to help folk in their daily life. Although it is not Christian, it has many Biblical principles. One chapter, in particular, that has helped me tremendously is entitled, “If Someone Throws You The Ball, You Don’t Have To Catch It.”

One does not have to be a sports enthusiast to understand this quaint little saying, for whom among us, from youth to the aged, does not realize that once you catch the ball, you’re responsible to do something with it; and all eyes are upon you, whether they be participants in the same game, or those observing from the stands, to see what you will do with the ball.

How easy it is to be dragged into other people’s problems. I have a little saying, “When someone else’s problem becomes mine, then there are two with the same problem.” I have found in my own life, to my deep sorrow and regret, that getting involved in situations that do not concern me has taken the joy out of life. What an inward peace of soul I have experienced these last few years, when I’ve been tempted to be drawn into business not belonging to me, to say to myself, “I ain’t catchin that ball.” O, dear friend, let us learn not to catch that ball, if we’re not prepared to take the responsibility that goes with catching it!

You may be thinking, the above sounds good, but it came from a worldly philosophy. True, but I remind you of our Lord’s words, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unsung Heroes

Every real man has buried deep within his heart the hope that someday he will do something heroic, thereby proving his manhood. It is something he carries in his bosom from childhood to adulthood. But many, if not most of us, come to the end of our days saddened by the fact we never saw our dream come true. That is, we mistakenly think so!
 
My grandpa Morrison (on my mother’s side) worked forty years at the Sorg Paper Mill in Middletown, Ohio, as a night watchman. He never missed a day in all those years. He was presented a gold pocket watch at retirement. As a young man he had gone from Kentucky to Ohio alone, worked a year, sending most of his paycheck back to Granny, until they had saved enough for her and their seven children to move.
 
A hero is a man who does what has to be done, simply because it has to be done. The world is full of men who are heroes! They go to work every day of their lives, love their families, help their neighbors, and make the world a better place to live in. It makes you feel safer knowing their kind is around. You feel good inside having known such men. Oh, they may never have saved a drowning child or an elderly person from a burning house. But they’re made out of the same kind of stuff as those who do such things.
 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Time Has Come

Dear Reader,

I purposely put “Reader” in the singular and not in the plural, because I want to speak to each of you as if you were the only one receiving this e-mail.

You may remember some time back, I changed “Today’s Journal,” to “The Journal.” This was for the day when I could no longer put my articles out daily. Well, I feel that day has come. As you may know, next year I will turn 80 years of age. This, along with some physical maladies (enlarged aortic aneurism and a blood/ bone condition that leaves me sapped of all strength) has prompted me to ease up just a little.

My articles take between three to four hours daily to prepare, sometimes more. It is a very difficult task for me. Like A.W. Tozer, I only went as far as the 9th grade. My skills as a writer are limited, and it takes me hours to accomplish what some could do in minutes. Plus, I'm not the brightest kid on the block when it comes to computers. I enjoy every minute of preparation and writing, but it does take a lot out of me.

Therefore, in the future I will put out articles as I feel up to it, and as my heart burns within me. I want to continue writing up till that time I hear the call to come home. I believe my decision will give me, possibly, more time to be a blessing to you. At least, that is my prayer.

An Old Disciple,

Richard

Sunday, September 2, 2012

His Right to Servitude

Most are familiar with the story of Jesus washing the disciple feet. There is an interesting statement that came from Simon when He began to wash his. “Peter saith unto Him, thou shalt never wash my feet.” I’m sure Peter thought this to be a worthy declaration. But, as usual, like most of us, he didn’t realize what he was saying. No matter how commendable it may have sounded.

You see, he was refusing to let Jesus do something in his life, which was needful. But, Peter evidently thought it too lowly for Jesus. Will we never get it through our thick skulls that Jesus loves to serve us? He said it Himself, “I came to minister.” He is the eternal Servant! It is the likes of most of us that detest servitude. And look upon those who do with disgust.

Is there some area of your life that seems either insignificant or too lowly for you to allow Jesus to be a part of, and help you? If so, in essence, you’re saying to Him, “Thou shalt never…” If you refuse to let Him enter that part of your life, then He says to you, as He did to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012

*What Do You Expect?

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

A young pastor came to Charles Spurgeon complaining nothing ever happened at his church. Spurgeon replied, “You don’t expect something to happen all the time, do you”? His answer was, “Well, I guess not;” to which Spurgeon again replied, “Young man, that’s why nothing’s happening; you don’t expect it to.” In Acts 3, the lame man at the gate looked upon Peter and John, expecting to receive something of them. Isn’t it a shame we have greater expectations from man, than of God?

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,” from the beginning of my Christian life to this present hour, I have always had a divine expectation. If you are saved and surrendered to God, you have every right to expect Him to do things on your behalf and for His glory.  As the great missionary said, “Attempt great things for God; expect great thing from God.”

Whatever may be your particular situation today, why not mull over these two scriptures, “My expectation is from Him…and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” Friend, He will not disappoint you!