Thursday, February 28, 2013

Almost But Not Altogether

“[He] cried out... with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief”
 
It is not unusual in scripture for two opposing entities to reside in the same dwelling. In fact, it is the norm. For example, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  After all, how would one know they had real peace if turmoil were not present? Or be victorious, without a battle?
 
Half of this heartbroken man believed Jesus could answer his prayer, while the other half questioned, would He answer his prayer. He needed Christ’s help to bring the one half into agreement with the better half. So he prays earnestly that Jesus will enable him in that part that is lacking. He was honest to admit imperfections in his faith.
 
This brief prayer is for all of us who are almost, but not altogether. I think our dear Lord purposely leaves this void in our faith that we may realize our great need for Him, even in our faith. You know, “Without ME ye can do nothing.” And that includes believing.
 
Know for a certainty, our Savior understands the faith and fear part of our lives (Heb.5:7). C.S. Lewis explains it best, I think. “One can believe in anesthetics and yet feel in a panic when they actually put the mask over your face.”

Monday, February 25, 2013

Those Crazy Christians

For a person to say an $8,000 dollar Rolex watch, with all its intricate mechanical movements, just came into being on its own, without an intelligent designer, they would have to be crazy. To say bitter is sweet, and evil is good, to love the dark and hate light, would be to consider one mad. Yet I have just described for you the world in which we live.

Someone has rightly said, “The world is an insane asylum run by the inmates.” The tragedy is, they all think they’re normal and the caretakers are weird. They believed one of the greatest minds that ever existed, if not the greatest (Paul), was mad, and that the sinless Son of God was beside himself (Crazy). Is it any wonder then that all His true followers down through history have been tagged with this honor?

The early Christians were accused of trying to “turn the world upside down.” No! They were simply attempting to turn the world right side up. And for this they were considered crazy. And so are we beloved.

Christian, beware of trying to get the attention, applause, and acceptance of a world that has gone mad!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Discourses of Jesus

On many occasions our Lord’s words were misquoted and misrepresented, but never misunderstood. The people of His day may not have understood their meaning, but they understood what He said. That is, the definition of the words. Christ always considered His audience. As the Quakers used to say, “Speak to the condition of the hearers.” At various times included in the company that would hear Jesus’ words were children, intellects, slaves, feeble-minded, common people, and theologians.

Our Saviour was always conscious of the crowd to whom He spoke. His discourses go from the simple to the sublime. He takes His hearers from the shallow shore to the depths in the middle of the ocean; but always bringing them back to shore again, lest those who were not advanced swimmers drown in the deep. The spiritually- minded and superior intellects need to remember the words of Oswald Chambers, “The ocean has a shore” He goes on to say, “Beware posing as a profound person; God became a baby.”

In all our preaching, teaching, conversations, and yes, praying and singing also, let us heed Paul’s admonition, “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” As Billy Sunday would say, “Put the cookies on the bottom shelf.” Whenever speaking to a crowd with a mixture of intellects, leave the $50 words for those times when your small group meets together. There is a time and a place for such things.

Some of us, I’m afraid, love to hear ourselves talk. In fact, if the truth be told, we’d drive a hundred miles to hear ourselves, never realizing, others wouldn’t cross the street to listen to us!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Habits Can Be Harmful

Good habits can be a help and health to one’s spiritual life, but can also be harmful. They can be a blessing or a curse, a blessing if they’re under our control, a curse if we’re under their control. We can be a slave to our habits, like being under a law, fearful of breaking one of our self-imposed, rigid rules.

One great danger of a good habit is found in the fact that after a while, you forget its original purpose. Meaningful things become mechanical; we are no longer conscious of their original intent. Things such as Bible reading, kissing a loved one each time they leave the house, saying grace at mealtime, as well as a score of other things we do habitually.

We can get so used to doing things a certain way that we feel there is no other way. And we end up attempting to impose our way on others. After spending a lifetime tying your left shoe first, it’s okay to start with your right one, if you want. Some have forgotten, “Variety is the spice of life.”

I know people who almost worship their good habit;, they have made little gods of them. It is not our good habits that come first, but God’s plan. God has a way of upsetting our good habits, and if we refuse to yield to what He wants at that particular time, then look for a long dry spell. Persisting to do things the way we always have can put one in danger of putting good before God. This is what Eve fell for; she chose something good over God!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bookworms

There are two types of bookworms, the literal insect kind, which feed on the paste on the binding, and the figurative type, humans, which devour the words on the pages. Paul fit the latter. From his prison cell he requested young Timothy to bring his books. And he encouraged his youthful protégée to “give attendance to reading.” For the old man knew, generally speaking, readers are leaders.

When our children were small, they used to listen to a Christian radio program, “Me and My Books.” The man referred to the books as his friends. In that wonderful movie, “Shadowlands,” the story of C.S. Lewis’ life, there is a statement that bears out the truth of books being our friends: “We read to know we’re not alone.”  No man is an island unto himself. We need others to let us know our thoughts, actions, and experiences aren’t solitary.

This goes even as far as to how Satan invades our lives. As Alexander Whyte’s maxim goes, “Mind your books and Satan cannot touch you.” Of course, The Book of Books takes precedent over all books. As Paul said, “bring [with thee]...the books, [but] especially the parchments.” Is it not rightly called “The Monarch of Books,” all other being subservient?

Allow me to close with a warning from C.S. Lewis concerning our reading of books. “We either get shallow and broad or narrow and deep.”

Addendum: Always read the foreword and be familiar with the index of every book you read. Especially, know as much of its author as possible.

 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why Pray When You Can Worry

Before you ask, no, I did not make a mistake entitling this article. Years ago a young preacher friend, in jest, would sing the song, “Why Worry When You Can Pray,” to these made-up lyrics. Although done in fun, there was much more truth in them than most of us like to admit. When are we ever going to call worry by its right name? SIN! We like to say, “Well, everyone does it.” Yes, and the Bible says, “All have sinned.”

The word worry comes from the old English word, “wyrgan.” It meant, “to strangle.” This is exactly the scriptural interpretation of the word. Doctor Luke tells us in his gospel that “...the cares (worries) of this world...choke the word.” Worldly worries will choke the spiritual life out of a person. To worry is to put your faith in what the world, flesh, and devil tell you. It is a flagrant mistrust in God’s promises. We are to “let God be true,” and the rest of that crowd liars.

Whenever we worry we’re not trusting God, and when we trust Him, there is no worry. These two adversaries cannot abide in the same house. One will eventually kick-out the other. Whichever one we side with, stays. Oswald Chambers says of our subject, “Worry means there is something over which we cannot have our way, and is in reality personal irritation with God.” He adds, “Worry is calculating without God.” May God help each of us to deal merciless with this accepted sin in all of our lives. And the best way in dealing with sin, is by calling it sin!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Uniting Opposites

The older I get, the longer I’m saved, and the more I see of life, I’m becoming increasingly cautious, as well as suspicious, of those among us who profess to have all the answers to life’s perplexities. Like Daniel’s image with feet mixed with iron and clay, there are some things that don’t seem to mix. That is, you can’t get them to fuse together; they just won’t bond to one another. And all the well-intentioned explanations of friends and loved ones do not satisfy the wondering soul.

The old Christian sage, George H. Morrison wrote an article concerning the puzzling things of life, “It isn’t what we cannot comprehend, but what we cannot reconcile, that troubles us.” It is not so much the difficulties found in attempting to unite certain doctrines, such as the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. What is so problematic for many thinkers is reconciling the goodness and severity of God. They seem to be irreconcilable. For example, God told Moses that it was He Himself, who makes the dumb, deaf, seeing, and the blind. Try explaining that to a young mother who just gave birth to a blind child.

The truth is, God’s wonderful love is compatible with everything that would seem to us harsh. Trying to understand God’s extremes will only bring endless agony of mind and heart. Such pain, you will find, is greater than the hurt you are experiencing. As darling David said, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.”  Some things the Lord will make plain to us now; other things, only when we come face to face with the One of whom it is written, “He doeth all things well.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Full When On Empty

In Paul’s letter to the Philippian believers he tells them he knew “...both how to abound and suffer need.”  When the Apostle uses the word “both,” I do not think he is using it in the sense of order of time. But rather, as it is employed in the first chapter of Acts, verse eight. It seems he is speaking simultaneously, that is, both happening at the same time.

If this be the case, then it was quite a juggling act. How is someone going to be full, and at the same time, suffer? God has a wonderful way of balancing things out in life, keeping us from the extreme. I think the best answer to our dilemma is found in David’s example. In the book of Psalms he tells us, “I am poor and needy.” Strange words indeed, coming from a king.

The solution to our problem is so simple we miss it. Each of these blessed men is trying to tell us a great truth. When we are full, we should be thinking of our great need of God. And when in dire need, we need to think of how much we have in God.

Whatever the situation, we are blessed, no matter how you look at it!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

One of the Old Prophets

“Whom say the people that I am...some [say]...that one of the old prophets is risen again.” Lk.9:18-19 (verse 8)

Twice in this chapter we find the term, “...one of the old prophets,” referring to whom some of the people thought Jesus to be. At the time mentioned, our Lord was a mature man of thirty years of age. Interestingly, He did not take any amount of time attempting to disassociate Himself from the old-timers of the distant past, or the caliber of men they were.

I have observed in recent years a rather large group of folk, desperately trying to divorce themselves from their forefathers. You will find this generation puts great value on antiques that profit them nothing, but, place little to no worth on the “ancient’s,” who could help them on to God.

And sad to say, this has been done to their own detriment.  The godly lives, heavenly wisdom, anointed service, answered prayers, and good works of their forefathers, have all been buried in the tombs of forgetfulness. One of the greatest needs of our day, I believe, is for some spiritual archeologists to dig up those rare relics from by-gone days, so that we may study their secrets to living a God-honoring life on this earth.

May God help each of us go to our spiritual tool shed and get our pick and shovel, and start digging!

  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You Never Know About God

“And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell [whether] GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?”

God had told David through Nathan the prophet, his child would die as the result of his sin with Bathsheba. Yet, in spite of this, he spent a week in fasting and tearful prayers for the child’s recovery. As Mathew Henry says, “While there is life there is hope, and while there is hope, there is room for prayer.”

Although David did not have a particular promise, he was not sure God would not turn and be gracious to him. God has been known to do such things, as in the case of Hezekiah. After being told he would die, he wept and prayed, and God added fifteen years to his life. God’s mercy, many times, trumps His judgment.

When David’s servants asked the reason for his actions, to put it in our present day vernacular, he answered, “Who can tell, you never know what God might do.” He believed there was a chance God would point His sceptre of divine favor his way. And, beloved, who knows, this very day He might point it toward you or me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Second Mile Religion

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain”

Jesus speaks of a man who has his coat taken from him at law; His advice is to let them have his cloke also. He mentions what one’s reaction should be to those who smite us upon the cheek; we are to turn to them the other. And in our text, He tells us, if we’re compelled to go a mile to go the second mile.

The first response in each of the above mentioned is duty, the second is grace. It is never your duty to go the second mile. If we do only our duty, we cease to be Christ-like. Most of us use the argument that we have run out of gas at the starting point of the second mile. But that is no excuse, for God has put in each of us a reserve tank that can carry us through the second mile.

There are those who say the Sermon on the Mount is Law. Are they saying that the Law has a higher standard than Grace? I find when I use such reasoning it is not because of the way I believe, but because of the way I live. It is recorded of Jesus that, “He went a little further.”

True, in some cases the saint has prayed all he can, given all he can, loved all he can, advised all he can, and forgiven all he can. What is one to do after coming to the end of the second mile marker, not knowing where to go from there? “Is there any word from the Lord?” I am happy to say there is. "Neither know we what to do: but our eyes [are] upon thee.” Whenever you don’t know what to do, “Stop, look, and listen!

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Destructive Distraction

“And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you...that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.”

In matters such as piloting a plane, driving a car, or even a simple thing like riding a bike, a brief distraction can be destructive. A wandering thought, a glance backward, a slight nod, any of these can result in an unwelcomed circumstance. It can not only be disastrous to the one, but also to others, at times.

And so it is with a Christian, they cannot for a minute allow anything or anyone to divert their attention away from Christ. The devil will use every means in his arsenal to turn our focus from Jesus, not only by dangling sinful enjoyments before us, but with Spiritual goodies and legitimate causes. Anything to sidetrack us from the Lord Jesus Christ!

When just a boy, my mother and I visited my Grampaw in Kentucky. He was a little man on the outside, but a giant of a character on the inside.  One day he took me to the fields where he was plowing. I remember standing  by the wood fence, wondering how he could plow such a straight row every time. When he came to the side of the field where I was, I asked him how he did it. With a twinkle in his eye, and that distinctive Kentucky drawl, he said, “Son, you just pick you out a post opposite you on the other side of the field, and you don’t take your eyes off it, not for a minute. Need I say more?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Walking the High Ground

“And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him”

The old-time evangelist, Dr. Bob Jones Sr., used to tell a heartwarming story in one of his sermons. A Sunday school teacher asked a little girl to describe Enoch’s walk with God. Said she, “Well..., first of all, it was an awful long walk (300 years). It was so long that God said to Enoch, ‘Enoch, we’re closer to my house than yours; why don’t you just come on home with me.’”

Some reading this article are just beginning their walk with God, others are somewhere in the middle; while others of us, like Enoch, can see the light in the window of God’s house. What an inexpressible joy it has been to walk with my Maker, Lord, Father, Friend, and God these many long years. In spite of my sins, shortcomings, doubts, fears, and a host of other frailties associated with being human, it has been absolutely marvelous strolling down Lover’s Lane with the Lover of my soul!

Far too many are attempting to occasionally walk on water with God who have not yet learned to walk daily with Him on land. I would encourage any and all, if you want a life filled with unspeakable joy, and filled with glory, to get in step with God. And then, stay in step. O, my friend, walk the high road. Some of you have been traveling the low road long enough.

Don’t worry about your soiled feet; He still humbles Himself to wash the feet of His followers!