Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Leson From God's Garden

It’s good to remember, God is always the initiator. This being true, it necessitates man being second. God sought us first, and not vice-versa; we were lost, not God. God knew us before we knew Him. And we’re plainly told “we love Him because He first loved us.” I knew and loved my four children before they were ever conscious of a knowing, loving father.

It’s humbling, but true. God works in us His plan, will, desire, and pleasure; and as a result, we work it out “with fear and trembling.” This is the way it has been from the beginning. God planted the garden in Eden, afterward, Adam dressed and kept it. This should challenge each of us to restrain ourselves from initiating things in our lives and ministries God is not the originator of.

Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”  In other words, whatever we plant, won’t bloom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's a Big Step

It is a wise person who seeks and does those things that are good for them in this life. David said, “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” The text suggests that even the “sweet psalmist,” the one called “a man after God’s own heart,” was not always near to his God. This is implied in the words, “draw near.”

The song writer had it right when he penned the words, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” Don’t you think he must have read the statement in the book of Jeremiah, where speaking of God’s people it says “Thus have they loved to wander.”

James exhorts us to “draw nigh to God, and (then promises) He will draw nigh to you.” If we will take the first step toward God, He will take the second toward us. And remember, God’s steps are bigger than ours. No matter how far away you may feel from him today, if you will take that first step toward Him, you’ll find after He takes His, you will be face to face with your God!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Undoing the Done

“Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear…And Jesus… touched his ear, and healed him.” I am sure Jesus restored Malchus’ ear, for why just heal him? The natural process would have taken care of that. Plus, Jesus never did anything halfway, but wholly.

Christ Jesus can clean-up any and all messes we make. But He and He alone must do it. As long as we hang around and try to help, I guarantee, the mess will get worse. I know, for I’ve spent most of my Christian life having Him clean up messes I’ve left behind.

Most, if not all our problems stem from an impulsive spirit, like Peter, in spite of the fact the wise man tells us, “Be not hasty in thy spirit.” Nevertheless, being a part of humanity, we are. But praise be to His name, when we do tangle up things, He will unravel them. IF WE LET HIM DO IT!

It is never too late for God to work.


(R.D.S)

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

To My Scholar Friends

Are you surprised that I would have a plurality of friends among this elite group? Well I do, so many in fact that I cannot name them all. You say you’re perplexed? It may be because of the fact that the meaning of the word “scholar” has been changed in our day. The original Latin meaning of the word is: “Discipulus”, and is defined as: disciple, student, learner, or pupil. This latter word is how the Bible interprets it; it contrasts the teacher with scholar (1 Chron. 25:8).

I like what C.S. Lewis says about changing the meaning of words, “When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object.” I’m afraid that is what the word “scholar” has come to mean in our day, “a term of praise.” Personally, I am impressed with folks like the scholar, Mary, who sit at His feet and are always learning. People “soaked in the scriptures,” if you please.

The great evangelist, D.L. Moody, used to call the children of his Sunday school, “My little scholars.” May the good Lord help us to never get so big for our britches, that we lose that child-like awe in learning at our Master’s feet!   

A Know-So Salvation

Many years ago a young pastor was building a great church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The congregation was growing by leaps and bounds. One of our nation’s leading magazines picked up the story and did a featured piece about it. Shortly after, the youthful preacher became an extreme hyper-Calvinist. He taught God’s elect could only hope they were saved, but couldn’t know it for certain.

The story is told, the first Sunday he preached this doctrine, one of his leading men in the church got up to leave; upon which, the pastor asked the reason for his departure. The gentleman replied, “If you can’t know you’re saved, how can you know you’re called to preach? I’m not going to listen to a man who does not know for sure he’s been called.”

Paul did not teach any such doctrine as the above mentioned. On the contrary, he wrote to the new believers in Christ at Thessalonica, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” Notice, it was not a hope so, but, a know-so salvation. It’s worth repeating, if one does not know he or she is saved, how then can they be assured of anything else in their Christian life.

“Think, think, think,” says Winnie-the-Pooh. Does it make sense that God would let you know in no uncertain terms you are lost, but not give you the same surety you’re saved? I think not, my friend. And I have a sneaking suspicion you don’t either. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A God Like Me

David tells us of those who make idols with their own hands. He says they make them with mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet. Then he finishes his account by adding this interesting statement, “They that make them are like unto them.” In other words, their God is not only made by them, but he is like them.

It is important to realize, we too can fashion our own God, but without sculpting a physical statue. We carve out an image of deity in the imagination of our minds, the only difference being in material substance. God’s indictment against His people in the Psalms proves one can create his or her own mental God, “Thou ‘thoughtest’ I was altogether such a one as thyself.”

The reason our God is lacking in compassion, mercy, holiness, love, tenderness, and a host of other precious attributes, is that we have crafted a God like unto ourselves. I’m sure you’re familiar with this scripture, “In the image of man made he God.” OOPS!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep It To Yourself

Hast thou faith? have [it] to thyself before God.”

Many use the old adage, “My life is an open book.” If that be so, I am sure it is an incredibly thin autobiography. Upon inspecting its pages, I think we’d find someone had taken a pen-knife and removed at least one-third of it. A weak believer might use this little quip in all honesty, and mean it, but never a strong believer. For the latter knows, some things in the Christian life are to be kept between themselves and God alone.

Let no one misunderstand me, the context of the above scripture is not referring to the fundamentals of the faith, but to the shady areas, those questionable things that arise in the Christian’s life. You know, whether “to do or not to do?” The mature saint can do certain things with a clear conscience before God, but, should keep it there; before God. They’re not to flagrantly flaunt their liberty before their immature or unenlightened brother or sister.

It is possible to influence weaker brethren to sin by going against their conscience in something that is perfectly legitimate for you to do. And to attempt to impose your liberty as a rule for others to follow, who are not at your stage of growth in the Lord, does not liberate them, but to the contrary, it brings them into bondage.

Mathew Henry says, “Enjoy (your liberty) in the comfort of your own bosom before God.” Notice, “before God,” you need not worry about offending Him! He sees what you do and approves, if not sin. But let the free man or woman beware not to parade their freedom before those who do not yet fully understand one’s “glorious liberty in Christ; for this can bring upon the advanced believer either scandal or contention among the brethren.    

 “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The "Master" Mind

In this age, like others, there are discussions among intellects concerning the great minds and thinkers of the past. In our contemporary society, we have what is called, “Think Tanks.” This is when a group of intellects meet together to discuss a variety of subjects which have real   substance.

Many are awed by these assemblages, which include, to name a few, political, social, religious, and philosophical groups. But all this brainpower is wasted, hot air, if you please, if that “One” with the greatest of all minds and grandest of all thinkers combined, is not invited into their dialogue. It’s humbling to think of, but mankind never had an original thought that God didn’t think of first.

 My pale I’m often dropping
Deep down into this well.
It never touched the bottom,
However deep it fell;
And though I keep on dipping
By study, faith, and prayer,
I have no power to measure
The Living Water there.

The Right Hand of God

Like many preachers of the past and present, my mother had a profound influence upon my life. She was instrumental in my salvation and encouraged me in the ministry. There is hardly a day goes by that, as the old song goes, these “precious memories flood my soul.”

Toward the end of her journey here on earth, at the age of ninety-three, she had to be taken to the hospital (for the first time in her life). Her blood count was critically low, and she received two separate transfusions. After that, though she weighed only eighty pounds, she began to recover a little of her strength.

When my wife and I visited her at the hospital, we were surprised they had gotten her up to begin walking. It was both the cutest, and at the same time, most pitiful sight of her I had ever seen. There she was standing in that long hallway, with floors waxed, holding on to a walker with wheels; and a nurse by her side.

When she saw us, she began walking our way. As she got closer she gained speed and almost flew past us, her feet hardly touching the floor. I don’t think in all my life I ever saw such a smile of accomplishment on her face. Then I noticed, the nurse had tied a towel around her waist which she was holding with her right hand at the small of Mom’s back.

O, precious child of God, do you feel you cannot take another step, that you are too weak to even stand? Then take cheer, my helpless friend! For God’s darling David experienced the same, and his testimony was, “Thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Overwrought: Because It's Not Overnight

Have you recently made some type of decision or commitment to Christ concerning your spiritual life? Have you seen very little change in the area you desired to see transformed? Are you tempted to give up because of the thought you will never be able to obtain the thing you longed for?

What is the problem with people in such a predicament as the likes of us? It’s quite simple. I will grant that some changes in the Bible are radical and instantaneous, but, generally speaking, most come slowly, over a process of time. We need to learn to be patient, not only with God, but ourselves.

A good Bible illustration of this is found in 2 Samuel chapter three verse one. “Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul weaker and weaker.” Here we see David did not become overnight what he later became. Notice, it was a long process of personal battles before he achieved it!

As the Chinese proverb that I quote so frequently says, “A thousand mile journey was started with one step.” If you have started yours by faith, don’t stop or turn back; you’ll always arrive at the right place if you’re on the right road. Ask Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.

       

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Change of Garments

I understand when people say they like consistency in the life of a Christian. But one needs to understand when making such a statement that it is a general truth. I hope you take this in the right context, and you will if you think it through, “Consistency is the virtue of fools,” says a preacher of yesteryear. You know, Brinks taking the same route to the bank each day.

What I am speaking of is the ability to adapt oneself to various situations, without compromise. This will take a lot of wisdom, plus humility; by the way, don’t try it without the filling of the Spirit. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men.” You cannot be consistent and fulfill this scripture.

Each of us has an inner garment, and should have a selection of outer ones. God never asks us to change our inner garment. But He does expect us to put on a variety of outward spiritual ones from time to time, as the occasion might warrant. One of the great problems among many separate groups today is their unwillingness to don a diverse coat.

Let each of us make sure we have a great assortment of outward garments in our closets; and that we always dress for the occasion!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Today May Be the Day

“And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains...” How wonderful to be freed from the bondage of literal chains by a fellow man. But to be emancipated by God from spiritual chains is nothing short of marvelous. To hear the words, “He hath sent me...to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison...” far from within our own prison, is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

It says of Peter while in prison, “And his chains fell off...” It was almost unbelievable both to him and others who had been praying for him. And so it is, or will be, in the near future, for many of us who are held slave to something in our lives. Without warning, and when we least expect it, deliverance comes.

As Charles Wesley so aptly wrote, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, and I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

Take heart, weary captive, keep your ear turned. Soon you will hear the turn of the key....maybe this very day!

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Turbulence

I joined the Air Force at seventeen years old, the start of the Korean War, and shortly thereafter spent a tour of duty there. During those four years of service I can remember a harrowing experience on a flight from Korea to Japan, a buddy and I were just minutes away from a jump after seeing the warning light come on. Then, just a few years back, when traveling from Washington to Virginia for a revival meeting, we came close to crashing. Four fire trucks and two ambulances were awaiting us when we landed. But thankfully, they were not needed.

My wife travels by plane to visit her loved ones in Ohio from time to time (all my loved ones there are now deceased).  Just before her flight time, I always tell her, “If you hit turbulence, holding tight to the arm rests, and leaning the opposite way to help straighten out the plane, just won’t work. And all your anxiety will not cure the circumstances. Humanly speaking, you must trust the pilot.”

O, beloved in Christ, trying to manipulate fearful conditions we meet in our journey of life, and spending unnumbered hours in agonizing worry, will not correct the situation. WE MUST TRUST THAT BLESSED ONE AT THE CONTROLS!  We must learn to emulate our brethren in the Bible, who, we are told, are our examples. Listen to Esther’s statement of commitment, “If I perish, I perish.” And darling David’s words, “Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us.” And what Bible beaver is not familiar with Jobs immortal statement, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Starting Again, and Again, and Again

Who among God’s elect has not fallen into some sort of dreadful sin, at one time or another? Each, I’m sure, remembers the excitement and exhilaration experienced when that load was lifted, the conscience cleansed, and fellowship restored; when we began again with an all new fresh start.

Well, my friend, this is not only true of certain intervals, but, no, not daily, but moment by moment. You do not have to wait till bedtime or find a place you can get alone. There is no place or situation you can find yourself that you cannot, in that very second, find forgiveness and cleansing by simple confession.

And once this is done, as A.W. Tozer brings to our attention, God forgives us as if we were newly created; like we had no past. Glory over me! We can have that sense of a fresh beginning over and over again, moment by moment. What a God!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Suggestion for Preachers

Some years ago I was in a meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. The church was packed, and the people were wall to wall. They were even sitting on the platform stairs. There was a trucker there, who, whenever I hit on a good point, would shout out, “Park her there, preacher, and preach awhile!” And believe me, I did!

I think one of the marks of a really great preacher is seen in him not having to finish his sermon. The Bible knows nothing of sermons anyway; it is a message God’s man is to deliver. If a preacher is sensitive to the Holy Ghost, he will allow for Divine Intervention. As Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his household we are told, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

An associate was asked about what he thought his greatly blessed and used pastor’s secret was in his preaching. His simple answer was, “He can close it out on his first or second point, he doesn’t have to finish.” I have seen preachers (including myself) take God’s people into the heavenlies, only to bring them back down to earth by their stubborn insistence in finishing their sermon. My advice to preachers, for what it is worth, is when you have God’s people in His presence, close it out and leave them there! Yes, even if it is only fifteen minutes into your message.

“God’s people do not enjoy hearing us half as much as we enjoy hearing ourselves.”
(Warren W. Wiersbe)
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Knowledge Plus

Knowledge alone is like trying to walk with one leg. That is, knowledge by itself will get you nowhere. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and at the same time, very dangerous. Wonderful, if it’s used as a starting point to get you somewhere; dangerous, if it lies dormant and becomes stagnant.

Peter tells us knowledge is one of the things in life that needs an additive. Once you have knowledge you must follow through with it, Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD.” Doing something follows knowing something: James writes, “Him that knoweth to do good…” Jesus tells us the servant who knows, but doesn’t do anything with that knowledge, well, that is bad news for him or her.

Daniel records for us, at “the time of the end… knowledge shall be increased.” There is an eerie thirst for knowledge today. People want it just for the sake of having it; but they have no intention of doing anything with it. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “We have enough brains to damn the world.” I think we need to put a temporary hold on knowledge until we catch up by using what we already have.