Wednesday, November 28, 2012

*Roses and Whiskey Bottles

Years ago, I heard the following story told by a preacher who ran a skid-row mission in Houston, Texas. It seems the place where he met with his little flock of derelicts was very dull and drab, which only added to the dreariness of these poor souls. And so, attempting to brighten up the place, he took a beautiful, fragrant, red rose; put it in a bottle, then set it on a table by the door they entered. He said there was not a harlot, drunkard, or drug addict, which did not comment on it. It seemed to uplift each spirit, by its appearance. He said, not one noticed the old, discarded whiskey bottle he had filled with water to put it in.

Paul mentions in the book of Colossians the mystery of “Christ in you.” And he told the Corinthian believers that they had this “treasure in earthen vessels.” What a blessing to think God chose this old sinful worthless crockpot to pour the water of life into, then added that lovely, fragrant, exquisite Rose of Sharon!”  

I say “Amen” to my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, when he asks the question, “Do you love to see Christ’s picture in a saint, though hung in never so poor a frame?”

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Power of One

In the book of Ezekiel, there’s a story of how God looked for just one man that He might spare His judgment upon His people. We are told He sought him among the priests, the princes, the prophets ,and finally, the people. Then falls four of the saddest words recorded in the scriptures from God’s lips, “but I found none.”   

One man, one woman, one youth, one preacher, one church—this has always been God’s way. You’ll be hard pressed to find God with the majority, or going along with popular opinion. It seems, He likes the “underdog.” His only condition for entering that cold, lifeless church at Laodicea was, “If any man will open the door.”

The great problem of today is, no one wants to go it alone! It is amazing what one single individual can accomplish who has only God on their side. Abraham, Elijah, Ruth, Moses, Noah, Esther, Paul, and Job, prove this out. One man and God can make a difference; Jesus did.

I am only one, but I am one
I can't do everything, but I can do something;
And that I can do, I ought to do
And what I ought to do by the grace of God I shall do.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

God Answers Prayer

“Moses and Aaron… and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.”

God answers prayer! Sometimes immediately, as in Hezekiah’s healing; at other times after a delay, like Daniel’s experienced; and on some occasions, the answer is different from our desire, Paul being the example.

But no matter what the situation, I find God’s answer to be always above and beyond my wildest expectation (Eph.3:20 cp. Jer. 33:3). I think Mary and those praying for Peter’s deliverance would agree with me (Acts 12:1-17).

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayers.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late,
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.


~Hickok~

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Emptiness of a Christ-less Life

You would think an article by this title need only be written exclusively to the unregenerate. But shamefully, I must confess, it is a proven fact this is also true of many Christians. But whether saved or lost, there’s one telling characteristic in each instance of their emptiness, an insatiable need to fill a mysterious void in their lives.

People who possess this kind of vacuum, generally sense a main ingredient is missing, which they believe can alone make up the whole of their life. Therefore, they’re constantly looking for something or someone to fill this hollowness. But find to their dismay, no matter what it is, it is never enough; satisfaction is only for a brief time. They’re still left wanting. Their lives are like a vacant house. Have you noticed there is sadness, a certain depression, about an empty house; it was built to be inhabited.

God created man that He might fill every aspect of his life, but the ingrate kicked (so to speak) the owner out of his own house. Since then, mankind has been walking through dry places seeking fulfillment, but finding none. Sometimes ending up seven times worse than when he began. Jesus Christ came into this world and emptied Himself, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. If we will but relinquish what we believe is our right to His property, and place it once again back into His hands, as Stuart Hamblen’s song goes, He will fill “This Old House.” No matter in what condition we’ve let it become!

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Hanger-On

I’ve read the Spartan’s of old, after conquering cities around them, would leave one close by. The purpose was, said they, was to keep them always alert and vigilant. In the book of Judges we find God left certain nations to prove His people. David seems to be calling attention to this in Psalm 59:11, where he asks the Lord, referring to his enemies, “Slay them not, lest my people forget.”

We can apply this, I believe, to a Christian’s individual life. The scriptures seem to bear out the fact this is also true of us. After one’s conversion, God leaves something of our old life that stays with us throughout our pilgrimage here on earth. Rather than being a hindrance, as most of us believe, actually, it’s a great help. It is the thing that keeps us humble and dependent upon Him; a constant reminder of the weakness of our flesh. Pray and plead all you want for its removal, but like Paul, who prayed fourteen years for God to take away his thorn; you will also get an emphatic “No.”
The very thing we have been praying against is the thing that has made us (if we are of any use at all) what we are today. The old Puritan had it right we he said, “Paul’s thorn was the tack that held back the veil, so he could see the face of Jesus more clearly.”

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities…for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Great Three-in-One

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all. Amen.”

What a blessed benediction! How we all need the grace that Jesus brings, the love that God gives, and communion we may have with the Holy Ghost. Had we only one Scripture to prove the Trinity, the above would more than suffice.

The word “Godhead” is mentioned three times in the New Testament. I confess I do not understand the great Three-in-One; it’s a mystery, but I believe it with all my soul. Some Christians seem to be uncomfortable when speaking of the ministry of a particular Person of the Godhead, as if it would grieve the other Two. But, my friend, there is no jealousy in the Godhead.

How we need the Godhead in our everyday life. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

1) Let us surrender first place to Jesus Christ. Whenever He crosses our path, let us remember, there is always a yield sign nearby.

2) May we put God  between us and every problem that confronts us. Let’s magnify Him, not the problem. May the world never be able to say of us, “Their God is too small.”
3) Also, may we have a conscious fellowship with the Holy Ghost. Let us allow Him to be our Helper in all our infirmities. He is the Christian’s crutch; lean on Him, He will sustain us in every situation.

O Blessed Trinity!
O Unbegotten Father! Give us tears
To quench our love, to calm our fears.

Bright Son! Who art the Father’s mind displayed,
Thou art begotten and not made.

Coequal Spirit! Wondrous Paraclete!
By thee the Godhead is complete.

Holy Trinity!
Blessed equal Three,
One God, we praise Thee.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Adjustable Wrenches

Every plumber carries a good adjustable wrench in his tool box. This one instrument saves him time, energy, and I’m sure, much frustration.

If our souls are not to be in constant vexation, then we must learn to adjust to life’s ceaseless changes. For better or for worse, either way, we need to adapt. If it be for the worse, then roll with the punches; if it’s better, enjoy it while we can.

Some situations are slow and transitional, others sudden, and can bring both surprise and shock. The first seems to sneak up on us unaware, while the second catches us unprepared. And, as I said, this is true of both blessings and calamity.

Paul tells us he had learned to be full and to suffer need. He was content with any hand life dealt him, knowing God was the disposer thereof. It is important to realize, no matter who serves the meal to us and of what it consists, God is the chef. Job knew this. “Shall we not receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”  As my dear old granny used to say, “It will all work out in the end.” By the way, bet you she had been reading her Bible!

Friday, November 9, 2012

In the Same Boat

I think it’s about time some out there in la-la land wakeup to the fact that we are all in the same boat. To listen to the complaints of these elitist, you’d think they were the only ones who ever experienced tough times. Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Narcissist, we too, are  part of a fallen and hurting humanity.

I like the way witty G.K. Chesterton puts it, “Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all sea sick.” Have you never read texts that speak of “common temptations,” “like passions,” and “one blood?” As my younger daughter used to say, when a child, “We’re same-alikes.”

Same can mean in likeness, yet not necessarily identical. For example, a migraine headache and severe earache are not identical twins, but are the same in family likeness. That is, both are the same in causing great pain. Therefore, it is ludicrous to tell me of your splitting headache as I am reeling in agony with an earache. “Every man shall bear his own burden.”

And just how should this be applied to our lives? Before we put our burdens on some other poor soul, first consider, their wagon may be overloaded already. Even to the breaking point.

“Never put more of a burden on a person than they already have.”
(Dr. Joe Henry Hankins)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tired of the Towel

We are told, “He [Jesus] took a towel, and girded Himself…and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel.” Who would ever have believed the Deity that laid the foundation of the world would humble Himself to wash the feet of men such  as these. We’re told it was done that He might leave us an example. An example, I say, of not the lesser, but the greater and more spiritual offering Himself in menial service. “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

To be sure, we are “puffed-up” when we despair of a humble ministry. And when this happens, we can be confident the glory has departed. Greatness leaves when haughtiness enters. Christlikeness is when we perform tasks that do not cry or lift up their voice in the streets, that need no trumpet to announce their achievements. Whenever we become tired of the towel we can know we have lost our Christ-like dignity.

I encourage each true servant of Christ who is becoming “weary in well doing,” to keep on keeping on. DON’T THROW IN THE

Monday, November 5, 2012

Us and Our Children

“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.”

 The choice of who will rule over us is far reaching. It not only affects the present, but future generations to come. Israel’s choice not only plagued their nation then existing but their posterity down through time, even to this very day. Therefore, much care and prayer should be taken in one’s choice of who will lead them, whether it relates to their home, church, or country.   

This is not the first time this nation, blessed of God, had a problem in their choice of leadership. We are told in the Old Testament, because they desired to be like other nations, they chose a man who they thought would be to them everything, but instead, he took everything. Their children became his servants (government workers), there was a heavy levy put upon those that had possessions, and the things taken from them were given to his cronies. Also, their fields and lands were confiscated and given to those of his choosing. It’s all there, read 1Sam.8:11-18.

What a difference in leaders Saul and David were. The former had a religion that could get along with the godless; the latter refused to walk, stand, or sit with them. Saul only cared how the others saw him; David’s main concern was how God saw him. King Saul cared little for the lives of other people, King David, on the other hand, was very involved and concerned with the lives of others, even the unborn. You’ll remember, at a weak moment in David’s life, he impregnated Bathsheba, another man’s wife. But rather than abort the child, saving himself embarrassment and disgrace, he chose rather life. That is the man of God’s own choosing!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's Just Not For The Birds

It seems to me, the scriptures teach, whenever God wants to encourage His people to pray, He reminds them of His greatness and the miraculous things He did for them in the past. A good example of this is found in Psalm 81:10, “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.”

I heard an old preacher friend years ago illustrate our text. He said when there is a nest of hungry little birds, invariably they will look up to their parent and open their mouths wide. He went on to say, as long as they keep their mouths open, they will continue to be fed.

I don’t know about you, but I have been convicted lately of not asking and expecting great things from my Father. I think I need to “open my mouth wide,” and keep it that way for a while. How about you? James tells us, “Ye have not because ye ask not.”

f you’re like me, you can get a little timid when asking the Lord for the big things of life. But, at such times, it is well to heed the words of Dr. Charles Blanchard, second president of Wheaton College. He reminds us that God was never critical of anyone who asks too much from Him!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Lamb in the Lion's Mouth

When questioned by Saul on his ability to meet Goliath in warfare, David told him of two incidents that happened while he was watching his father’s flock. One of which was when a lion had come among the sheep, and had taken one of the lambs in his mouth, and David had caught him by the beard and slain him.

We hear and read much about this story, highlighting David, Saul, and Goliath. But to my knowledge, I find no place where anyone has given mention of the little lamb taken captive by the lion. How do you think he felt? Taken away from his secure place, his little heart beats like a drum, and then feels those sharp-edged teeth sinking through that wooly coat to his flesh. Ah, but then, all of a sudden, his shepherd shows up, there’s a sudden jerk, and he’s free. He stands there, defenseless, as he observes his defender kill his arch-enemy.

Thank God for that blessed One who is greater than David, our heavenly Shepherd, who delivers us poor, weak, defenseless lambs, from the greatest of all our enemies—Satan himself. Is not our testimony the same as that of Paul? “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.”