Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taking a Wrong Turn

Speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul told them his desire was to finish his course “with joy.” And by comparing his second letter to young Timothy, we find he did just that. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith.” 

There is absolutely no question we believers will finish our course. This doesn’t  concern me. What I am interested in is this, will we finish it with Joy? John the beloved tels us some of God’s children will be “ashamed before Him at His coming.” I personally long to enter His presence joyfully, and not blushingly!

If you have lost your way over these past days, weeks, months, or even years, let me give C.S. Lewis’ remedy. “We want progress, but progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. If you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer, if you are on the wrong road. Progress means going back to the right road, and in that case, the man that turns back soonest, is the most progressive.”

Just about now, maybe some of us need to take a U-turn.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Lot in Life

How many of us are like Ephraim and Manasseh of old. When God allocated their lot in the newly-conquered land of Canaan, through Joshua, they complained. As my dear sainted mother used to say, “You couldn’t satisfy some people if you hung them with a new rope.”

We murmur because we feel others have a better life than we. I would remind all such what Jesus said to Peter, “What is that to thee? follow thou me.”  As Thomas à Kempis says in his book, The Imitation of Christ, “For man proposes, but God disposes.” Shakespeare, too, had a similar message in Hamlet: "There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."

Paul’s lot in life was to suffer for the Lord Jesus; God told him that at his conversion. Nevertheless, he rejoiced and wanted nothing but the best for others. He wrote to the Corinthians, Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.”

And what did old John the Beloved, who was very familiar with loneliness and pain, say to the saints of his day? “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Although it may not be true of some of our own lots in life, we should want nothing but the best for our dear brethren.

Whatever my lot,
Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well,
with my soul.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Other Gospel

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
(Gal.1:6-9)
Paul also tells us in 2 Cor. 11:4 that along with this “other gospel,” there is “another Jesus” and “another spirit.” Satan is a great imitator; therefore, we should not marvel that “the god of this world” transforms himself into an “angel of light.”  And that it is“...no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
The main difference between the “perverted” gospel, and the true gospel, is found in two small words, “do and done.” No matter how angelic the countenance may appear, or godly and righteous the outward life, if anything is added to the finished work of Christ, they’re as twisted and perverted as a pedophile. Yea, even more so!
If, perchance, you believe this “other” gospel, then what you have is a “make-believe belief!” You’re childishly pretending. It’s time for some to grow-up.
Jesus Christ did not suffer, bleed, die, and endure the eternal pains of hell, so that a “worm” can boast of his or her good works. We work from the cross, not to the cross. We work, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved. We are saved by grace unto good works. Paul plainly tells us if salvation is by works, then it is no more of grace. And if it is by grace, it is no more of works. Works just won’t work! “By GRACE Are Ye Saved.”

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wherein Lies Great Thoughts

A.W. Tozer writes, “Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God.” One of the great indictments the Word of God brings against the worldling is, “God [is] not in all his thoughts.” And again, “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”

I read the testimony of one godly saint who said, “I truthfully do not believe there has been more than a fifteen minute period in my Christian life that Christ has not occupied my thinking.” I believe this to be true of a small remnant of God’s elect in every age.

This type of person is so special to God that He has recorded their name in a special book, “...a book of remembrance was written before him for them that ...thought upon his name.” And why should I not think upon that blessed and most Holy One? I am told He thinks upon this worm! As David said, “But I [am] poor and needy; [yet] the Lord thinketh upon me.”

Narcissistic Christians crowd God out of their thoughts; there is only room for them.

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Our title is a phrase adapted from the poem, To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns. The poem actually says, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men. It is about his plowing a field and accidentally turning over and ruining the nest of a small field mouse at a time of year when it's impossible for the mouse to rebuild. Burns tries to reassure the frightened mouse that he meant no harm.

This proverbial expression is simply telling about the futility of making detailed plans when the outcome is uncertain. A Christian’s plans, especially, are always subject to change and disruption by the outside intervention of God. To be sure, whenever Divine interference occurs, it is not almost, but always, for our good, and God’s glory. But how tragic it is when so many of us get upset when God sees fit to upset our plans.

God does everything after the pleasure of His own will, and what pleases Him should please His children. But alas, how many of us are quick to pity ourselves, rather than praise Him. We pride ourselves with our hindsight, but lack little, if any, foresight, when it relates to the eternal plan of God. God doesn’t mind us planning, just as long as we are willing to give ours up for His. “Not my plan, but thy plan be done.”

 

 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The "Signs" Mania

Anyone halfway familiar with Church history recognizes the fact that every age thought theirs to be the last. Each of these periods used various “signs” from the Bible to prove it.

But could it be the absence of signs will be the one great sign?

Peter says just prior to our Lord’s return “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.  

In both Matthew and Luke’s gospels, Jesus says, “As it was in the days of Noe,” and, “As it was in the days of Lot,” so it will be preceding His coming. I was taught as a young believer that every minute detail of these two men’s generations was the thing to watch for. But the context says nothing of the kind!

The one thing, and only one thing He teaches, is the fact that the world was going on at its normal state (that is, normal for a sinning world). They were marrying and giving in marriage, eating and drinking, “until the day.” That is, right up till the time. Thus, He ends His teaching concerning His second coming with these words, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

There is no question, someday, will be the last day. But as my dear friend Dr. John R. Rice used to say, “Jesus is coming again, signs or no signs.”

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Here I Come, Ready or Not

I’ve heard just about every plea for revival imaginable, from the need for godly living to loving each other. But I contend, and have for many years, the need is to be revived concerning His Return. There is not one thing wrong that His return won’t right. As C.S. Lewis says, “The second coming of Christ is the medicine our condition especially needs.” It is not, revival or return, it is a Revival of His Return!

The reason early Christians lived such exceptional, godly lives, had a undying love for each other, and laid their lives on the altar of sacrifice, was for the simple fact they looked for, and expected their Lord’s return at any time. In Paul’s earliest letter to the Thessalonians, each of the five chapters ends with a promise of His return.

Again, allow me quote Lewis, “Because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.” If we really believe our heavenly Bridegroom can return at any moment, then we’ll keep the house clean. We will not emulate the “foolish,” and slumber and sleep.

As a boy, when we played hide-n-seek, after a long count, you’d hear the words shouted out, “Here I come, ready or not.” My dear friends, He is coming, whether you’re ready or not.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Reality of Heaven

Heaven is real; it is a literal place. Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Heaven is a country, with a capital city, New Jerusalem. Of the old patriarchs we are told, “...they sought a country,” and of Abraham it says, “He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.” And after a lifetime searching for it, upon taking his final breath on this earth, he found it.

The same God who made heaven, made the earth. There is no reason for “spiritualizing” the first while “literalizing” the second. One is the type of the other. When God describes heaven He uses the things of the earth, things we are familiar with, to depict heaven. God mingles heaven with earth. Read the Lord’s Prayer if you doubt this. Heaven is not a different place, but a better place, “But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly... for he hath prepared for them a city.

The paganistic Eskimo believed in a future land where he would eat his whale blubber to the full; the materialistic Egyptians were buried with their treasures, so they could enjoy them in the next life; and the heathenistic Indians looked forward to the, “Happy Hunting Grounds” at their death.

And we Christians, who have and know the truth, are awaiting a place known to us as “The Father’s House”. No child of God need worry about adjusting upon their arrival, as if they’ll be in a strange place, you’re going to be right at “HOME!”

    

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Creamy Milk Chocolate

If asked to define the word “bittersweet,” most would call to mind a type of chocolate. It contains a combination of both sweet and bitter. As far as I am concerned, it leaves much to be desired to the taste. Personally, I’m an old-fashioned creamy, milk chocolate fan.

Whenever we put anything else into the mixture with Christ, no matter how good its use separately, He loses much of His sweet flavor, and everything becomes bittersweet.  The reason Jesus is so unsavory to many Christians is because they have blended spiritual things with Him. Like John’s “little book,” at first it is sweet to the taste, but when digested, bitter to the stomach.

We hear much talk around the holiday season of how we need to get Christ back into Christmas. But I would contend, we need to get Christ back into His church (Rev.3:20). There is nothing as boring as a church service without Him, in its songs, preaching, and testimonies.  As someone has rightly said, referring to Christ’s absence in our lives, “It is like trying to start a car on an empty tank.” Detaching Christ from our services is to reduce them to impotence.

If I were to give my preacher son, Andrew, (or any other preacher) advice when departing this life, it would be, “Make much of Jesus.” As Ian Thomas says, “It is profoundly simple, and simply profound.” A church service does not have to be sensational, but with His presence can have the miraculous!

And he is the head of the body, the church...that in all [things] he might have the preeminence

Friday, January 18, 2013

Those Dry Times

“O God, thou [art] my God...my soul thirsteth for thee...[I] longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”

Godly David knew what it was like to experience the dry spells that come into every Christian’s life. He was mindful of those times when the “green pastures” turned into hay. When everything around him was parched and there was not one drop of moisture coming down from the heavens. When “the brook dried up,” and his bucket empty.

What did the saints of the scriptures do at such times? They looked forward, trusting God to keep His promise, “...when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”  They knew if they could just wait it out, that God would, “...cause the shower to come down in his season; (and that there would be) showers of blessings.”

In God’s own good time He says, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”  To be sure, we will once again taste those cold waters to a thirsty soul.”    

If you are going through a time such as I have just written, here is Elijah’s advice. And said to his servant, Go up now, look... And he went up, and looked, and said, [There is] nothing. And he said, Go again seven times... And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And it came to pass... there was a great rain.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All My Trees Are Gone

“[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.”

Most certainly, I believe the scriptures when they declare we are to give honour to whom honour is due. But I also accept its admonition, “not to think [of men] above that which is written.” Honouring the worthy is one thing; hero worship is another.

Men in the Bible are likened to trees, and if we are not careful, we will be awed by them. In this life, you will come across some mighty tall oaks, which can be very impressive. Paul was careful to not allow others to put him on a pedestal. He didn’t use any spiritual cosmetics, but rather allowed all his blemishes to show through. And what was his reason for this? “Lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me [to be], or [that] he heareth of me.

You’ll know you have arrived at the place God wants you, when Jesus is the last Man standing! When your heroes like Moses and Elijah are no longer next to Jesus, but you are left alone with “Jesus only.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Translation You Can Trust

I, like Hilkiah of old can say, “I have found the Book,” The “Book” I refer to is the Authorized, King James, 1611 Bible. I believe it is the very Word of God for the English speaking people today. I say this, not only because I was saved under the preaching of it, nor because I was taught it by man, but for over fifty-five years God has shown me, personally, truths concerning it that I have never read or heard from any other living soul, past or present

This book is its own dictionary, commentary, interpreter, and I can show that like modern computers, it corrects its own misspelled words (caused by the printer). I would no more look for a better translation than a literary critic would look for a better version of Shakespeare.

As to the “archaic words,” I have yet to find a modern translation translate the word, “dung” into its equivalent in today’s English. There are some one million words in the English vocabulary; 5000,000 are cited in most dictionaries. The King James Bible has less than an 8,000 word vocabulary. They tell us a child knows 300 words by the age of two, 3000 by the time he or she is three. By the time they’re five, it’s possible they could know the 8000 word vocabulary of the King James Bible.

I believe God personally superintended this blessed translation. I also believe with all my heart that there is a scheme to discredit it at all costs. Think about it for a moment. Each new translation flaunts the fact that it is superior to the King James 1611. Why, if the previous translation was better than the KJV? Why not say its bible was more excellent than the previous?

The religious world of our day hates what I have just written, and to be perfectly honest with you, I cherish the thought. Jesus said, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them.” There is only one translation the religious crowd despises. They will accept any and all with arms open, except for one, the preserved Word of God, the old KJV 1611.

Other translations, like a tract, contain the Word of God. But only the Authorized Version IS the pure Word of God!

If you think I’m dreaming, PLEASE DON’T WAKE ME.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Knowing and Doing

I must confess, understanding man’s will is much more difficult for me than apprehending God’s will. As to the former, Paul tells us, although he had the will to do something, he was impotent in the performance of it. Yet, in another place, he speaks of a man who had power over his own will. He also mentions doing God’s will willingly, but then adds, doing it against his will. Mystery of mysteries!

But not so with God’s will. The apostle tells us in Acts that God chose him“that thou shouldest know His will.”  It is just plain common sense, how can we intelligently do the will of God unless it is made known to us? God’s will must be known if it is to be done! But as the little adage goes, “Knowing is one thing; doing is another.” Balaam knew God’s will but didn’t do it as originally presented to him.

Many in our churches today say they desire to know God’s will. But few there are who will do it once it is shown. And why is this? Because the will of God is always bigger than we planned for. Jesus said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God,” even when it meant a cross. He, truly, “Did God’s will from the heart.” Our problem, as Spurgeon says is that we play with sacred things.

God told His people of old the reason He did not bless them was “because ye do not lay it to heart.” The will of God is a serious matter, it cost His dear Son His last drop of blood. Again, to quote that Prince of Preachers, “It will not give any man in heaven even a moment's joy to think that he gratified himself while here”...”Oh, brothers, let us live as we shall wish we had lived when life is over.”

Do you seriously want to know and do God’s will? Then follow the instructions in Romans chapter twelve, verses one and two.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Whittling Away

The story is told of a mountain preacher visiting his flock. He came upon one house where an old man was sitting on the porch whittling away at a crude piece of wood. When asked what he was doing, he said he was making an elephant. The pastor mentioned he thought that would a difficult task. To which the mountain man answered, “Not really, you just cut off everything that don’t look like an elephant.”

The apostle Paul tells us that God is conforming each of His children to the image of Jesus Christ. I’ve heard some really profound explanations of how this is accomplished, some of which were very deep expositions on the subject.  But on second thought, maybe they were not really so deep, just muddy enough so you couldn’t see how shallow they really were.

Actually, the procedure is not so complicated. God simply cuts off in our lives everything that doesn’t look like Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing process. It began at our conversion and will end at death or His coming. God has predestined each of His elect to be conformed to the image of His Son. Therefore, He will keep whittling away at us until the replica is complete. For some, the procedure has just begun. With others, a vague form is beginning to show through. And with a host of others, the long process is in its final stages.

It is not so much a look-alike God is conforming us to, as it is an act-alike 1Jn.2:6).   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Two Natures/One Person

When the Bible speaks of a “new man” and an “old man,” it is not speaking of two distinct separate personages in the Christian’s body. But rather, two natures in one person, the old Adamic nature (received at the first birth), and the new Divine nature (received at the second birth). The Believer has one personality with two natures within. One is sinlessly perfect, the other sinfully incurable.

To which of these two principles the saint yields and follows, will determine the life he or she displays before God and man. These entities are constantly in conflict with each other, vying to sit upon the throne of the heart. Both desire to reign in the life; one yearns to rule in righteousness, and the other in unrighteousness. One aggravates the other. When yielding to the baser of the two there will be a retrogression, not an advancement in our life. This inner warfare will continue as long as the saint lives on this earth.

The above is the answer to John’s perplexing statement, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The “seed” is sinless, but not the saint in whom it dwells. Some misunderstand the text because of the word “cannot.” The Bible’s use of the word, generally, does not mean impossible, but improbable. To site just three instances: “As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”  Yes they could, but it would be unnatural. “I cannot rise and give thee.”  Most certainly, this friend could get out of bed at the late hour (for he did), but it was unseemly to do so. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” O yes it can, but it is wholly against its nature. Therefore, we see a Christian can sin, but it is unnatural for him or her to do so.

I hope this Bible study helped some of you.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pleading the Promises

“Put me in remembrance...”

Never would I be so bold as to ask our all-knowing God to remember anything. And in spite of having His Word to do so, I still do it with some trepidation. Nevertheless, it is “Thus saith the Lord.”  Saints throughout the scriptures reminded God of His promises. David is a good example of this. While in prayer he says to the Lord, “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

I read that the oriental kings of old would have with them at all times what was called, “a remembrancer.” Their duty was to remind the king of promises he made to his people. Although our King is omnipotent, yet He has chosen us to be His “remembrancers.” We are to bring before our Sovereign His own Word, then remind Him that this is what He promised. And like the old-timers used to say, “A man’s word is his bond.”

In the margin of D.L. Moody’s Bible, next to Acts 1:4, he wrote, “Tarry at the promises till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.” Dear readers, let us no longer possess a dumb spirit when coming before our King, but let us rather speak boldly, reminding Him of His promises to us, His children. Charles Spurgeon said, “The best praying in the world is pleading the promises.” What father’s heart isn’t moved when he looks down into expectant little eyes and hears the words, “But Daddy, you promised.”

“He hath said...so that we may boldly say.”

Thursday, January 3, 2013

No, Not One

“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift …like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”

Every saint of God will experience the sifting process in their life, at one time or the other. That is, we will be placed in God’s vast sieve to be shaken and tossed to and fro, as grain being sifted. The purpose is that the chaff, the outward dry husk surrounding the grain, along with the dust of the earth clinging to it, will be blown away by the winds of adversity. It is waste material and of little or no value. Only the good grain remains. The precious endures, the vile destroyed.

Notice, it is God who holds the sieve in His hands, “I will sift,” yet, He may use others as the means in the process. You’ll remember that in the case of Peter He used Satan to sift him, but God was the principle. We know from the book of Job that the devil is limited in what he can do to a believer.

Dear child of God, if you are being sifted today, take heart. God promises not one grain shall be lost, even to the least. No, not one! As Jesus prayed, sometime after Peter’s sifting, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost.” And why was not Peter carried away with the chaff? Listen to Christ’s words just prior to Simon Peter entering the sieve, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” And He is praying for you this very moment.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

To Each His Own

The above statement is true of many aspects in the Christian’s life, but none so spot-on as that thing we call prayer. In this most holy endeavor we must all come to realize, as the saying goes, “You’re you and I am I.” There should be a uniqueness about each of our prayer lives that matches no other. One size doesn’t fit all. What works for one may not for another. It is true in the Father’s house there is uniformity, but also, there is individuality.

I am wholeheartedly in agreement with a statement I read in one of J.I. Packer’s books, “Pray as you can and don’t try to pray as you can’t.” The only restriction is staying within the confine of the scriptures. Jesus was known on occasion to stand when He prayed, Paul knelt, Hezekiah prayed in bed;, David sat before the Lord, and Elisha walked to and fro in his house. I personally have done the latter for over fifty-five years. However you pray, be yourself, and be comfortable in doing it.

That unique and blessed old-time Nazarene preacher, Billy Bray, used to say, “I must talk to Father about that,” referring to prayer. As someone has so aptly said, “Experience can’t be taught.” It is something you learn, not from books, but from doing. There has been many a prodigal child brought back home to God by a mother praying at the altar of her sink, as she did her dishes. O, child of God, “Pray as you can and don’t try to pray as you can’t!”