Monday, April 29, 2013

Thinking Things Through

The old-time country mother, when asked by one of her children for approval to do something of significance, would reply, “We’ll have to wait and get the mind of your father first.” This is the meaning of having the mind of Christ. Words are simply formations of a thought process. Thus, God’s mind is found in His Word.

But once His thinking on a matter is ascertained, we must work it out to its logical conclusion. Sanctified logic is perfectly legitimate, as long as it is not placed first. You know, “the cart before the ox saying. We are to come at things scripturally, then logically. Samson’s mother is a good example of a scripturally logical thinker (Jud.13, notice verse 23). To get a firm grasp on truth, it must be thought through.

We need active thinkers; idle thinkers never get anywhere. Paul was possibly the world’s greatest thinker. You might say he was a born thinker. He was unable to leave anything alone; he pursued it to its very root. He was constantly thinking of the issues of life, and so should we be. Refusal to think things through to their end is the cause of most, if not all our problems.

Agatha Christie’s eccentric Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, referred of his brain as the “little grey cells” at work. Some of ours have been on the dole long enough; it’s time we put them to work!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

WHAT IS YOUR GOD'S NAME?

“The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee... Send thee help... strengthen thee... Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.”
 
I appeared unto...Jacob, by [the name of] God Almighty.”

God is known by many names in the scriptures by which He reveals himself to His people. But the one title with which every saint must be familiar if he or she expects to be an overcomer, is “God Almighty.”  

I emphasize, it is imperative!  

Jacob, along with Abraham, Isaac and a host of others, could never have achieved, personally or publically, the things they accomplished without the help of the “Almighty”.

Mini-professors who serve a miniature god need not think they will attain unto anything in life larger than their deity. A book title I saw once described this sort: Their God is Too Small. This is why they’re forever excusing his impotence.

Like Israel who worshiped Baal, the one who couldn’t answer his own prophets when they needed him most, even so, today’s play actors bow at the altar of a god who also cannot aid them in times of distress and need.

It is time again, in this apostate generation, as Elisha of old to cry out, “Where is the God of Elijah? And then upon seeing Him work, ask for a “Double portion.”

Prayer:  ALMIGHTY GOD, I beseech thee to once again move among your people. In thy mercy, grant it Lord.” AMEN and AMEN!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

David's Last Prayer and Final Words

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended”—“So when David was old and full of days... [his] last words...”

Psalms is preeminently a prayer and praise book. In the seventy-second Psalm David tells us his prayers are ended. Although this Psalm was possibly the last chronologically, yet it is placed in the middle of the book. This is not unusual in scriptures. First Thessalonians was the first of Paul’s writings, however Romans is listed first in order.

C.H. Spurgeon said, “Prayer is not so much a heavenly exercise as praise.” Prayer is for time, but praise is for eternity. The one ceases at death; the other continues for ever and ever. Remember, praise is the chief occupation of heaven. “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants.” 

That outward royal apparel adorning King David’s body was trivial in comparison to the glorious attire of which his soul was clothed, the “Garment of praise.” While on earth his testimony was, “I will yet praise thee more and more.” And I’m fairly certain, when entering heaven, he said to his lovely Lord, “I will praise thy name for ever and ever.”

O friend, let us heed these inspired words, “...the last words of David [to] the Levites [were]...to stand every morning... and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.”

“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Wisdom of the Wise

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom.”

I once held the view God’s gifts to His church in this present age are functional and nonfunctional. Of course, once this position is adhered to, it becomes a pick and choose situation.  In each case, a church selects the gifts their particular assembly or denomination believes to be operative today, thereby creating a schism in the Body of Christ. I’d like to call attention to just one of these gifts: wisdom.

Now it is important to understand there are general truths in the scriptures and specific ones. Example: James speaks of wisdom available to all, but Paul speaks of a particular kind of wisdom given to certain individuals of God’s own choosing. Wisdom such as the wise woman of Tekoah had, and the poor wise man in Ecclesiastes. We are not speaking here of common sense, for the gift of which we speak is not common to all.

The little cliché, “The wisdom of the wise,” is seen in the life of the Queen of Sheba. This wise woman sought out Solomon, whom God had endued with this special wisdom. Wise is the man or woman who searches out such gifted people. But be careful when seeking them, for they come in a variety of getups. Most, if not all, are passed over by the fact of their simple life-style. Remember, the wisest Man who ever lived had only one suit of clothes, hung-out, for the most part, with the poor and common people. And, literally didn’t have a penny to His name.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't Forget Your Shoes

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that [was] upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

The relationship of Jonathan and David in the Old Testament is a beautiful picture of Christ and the Believer in the New Testament. In our story Jonathan gives his future king everything, but one thing. Sometimes we boast in what we’ve given to the Lord; but He is more interested, I think, in what we haven’t given Him, that one thing we are holding back. In Jonathan’s case, it was his shoes.

If David was going to flee away from his adversary Saul, he would need shoes for those hot sands. How many there are who would have others believe they have given “all” to the Lord, when in reality, like Ananias and Sapphire “keep back part.” I think it may be good for each of us to sing afresh, “Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?”

You’ll remember the sacrifices of the Old Testament were, for the most part, divided evenly; one portion went to God, another to the priest, and an equal part to the one who brought it. But the whole burnt offering was exclusively for God and God alone. It represented complete dedication and consecration to Him. God is a jealous Lover; He will not share you with another.

Jesus made plain God wants the whole man. In Mark’s gospel, discussing the first Commandment with a scribe, our Lord says we are to love God with all our heart (emotional), with all our soul (spiritual), with all our mind (intellectual), and with all our strength (physical). When he heard this ,the scribe said, “This is more than all burnt sacrifices and offerings.” And so it is my friend!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Characterless Characters

A person can be a character without having any. The term, “They’re a real character,” doesn’t necessarily mean the person referred to possesses it. It is a trait I have observed, over long years, that is rapidly becoming extinct. To me, character is the backbone of an individual’s life; it is the thing that holds one up so he or she can walk straight and tall, in the midst of a “crooked and perverse” world.

If you were asking me to describe this present age, I would simply use one word, “shallow.” In my opinion, the mass of humanity is void of any inner substance. Their character is so lean they don’t even cast a shadow. We can imitate a lot of things in life, but character is not on the list. Like an actor playing a part, sooner or later the make-up has to come off and the garments changed. It is then everyone sees them step out of another’s character into his or her own. “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.”

The greatest test of a man’s character is how he takes charge of his own life. No Christian need stay the way he or she is. An old Hindu proverb says, “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.” Self-conquest is the greatest victory of all. Robert Browning said, “When a man’s fight begins within himself, he is worth something.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Moving Molehills

“Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

Paul is not discouraging the moving of mountains; that would contradict his Lord’s teaching. But he does emphasize the importance of taking care of the internal part of our lives before the external. What good does it serve us if we’re triumphant in removing mountains publically, yet are personally defeated by molehills privately?  

The little quip I quote so often, “The most important part of our lives is that part that only God sees,” is true. Samson, like many saints today, never grasped this fact. He displayed great power outwardly in removing mountainous obstacles, but was defeated by the “little hill” inwardly.

After years of Bible study, as well as observing people, I am convinced the greatest faith today is personal faith. What I mean by this is that inward faith that gets the victory behind closed doors. Like David killing the lion and bear in secret before taking on the giant publically.

For the most part, Elijah’s ministry was public, and Elisha’s private, behind closed doors. Interestingly, the latter did twice as many miracles. Is there not a lesson for us in this? I believe so.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Be Careful What You Pray For

Harry A. Ironside, Bible teacher and long-time pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, tells a heartbreaking story in one on his books. While visiting a parishioner in her home, he heard a child crying from the other room. She asked Dr. Ironside if he would like to see her little girl.

When he entered the child’s bedroom, he saw her sitting in a highchair with her back to him, looking out a window. As he approached the little one to get a better view of her, he gasped because what he saw was a thirty-two year old woman in a five-year-old’s body. Her speech, actions, and aptitude were those of even a younger child.

The mother then told him of how the child had contracted a life-threatening disease those many years previous, and because of a mother’s love and the girl being her only child, she asked God to spare her. But the child only drew closer to death. She told Dr. Ironside she then prayed this prayer: “Lord, if you do not give my daughter back to me, I don’t know if I can continue to love and serve you.”

The mother then recounted how the child, that very evening, began to change for the better. Then, with tears streaming down her face, she said to her pastor, “Oh, how I wish that I had left the choice with God!”

“And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Peter the Intellectual

Are you surprised at me calling the “unlearned and ignorant” fisherman an intellectual? This scriptural term (unlearned and ignorant), is in reference to a formal education only, not to his intelligence. The same was true in the case our Lord, His critics asked, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? “ One can be highly intelligent without an education. The opposite is also true.

A.W. Tozer did not have what the world would consider a proper education; his schooling extended merely to the ninth-grade. But this self-taught man (he would say, “Spirit-taught”) was considered by his peers a remarkable “wordsmith.”

Peter wrote two letters (epistles), his purpose being to “stir up” God’s people. Paul uses the same phrase to Timothy. Notice in Peter’s statement how he intended to accomplish this. ““This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets (Old Testament), and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour (New Testament).”

He did not directly approach their heart first, the seat of the emotions. But rather engaged their minds, the intellect. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encourages Christians when dealing with any and all life’s problems, to approach them in this order: mind, heart, will. This is how Peter handled the biggest test of his life. “And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him.... And when he thought thereon, he wept.” Peter worked his repentance out in his mind first. The heart and will followed closely. To have done it any other way would have made his tears a waste of water.

   

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Don't Care Anymore

Speaking to a friend recently by phone, I made this statement, “Sometimes we Christians must have an, ‘I don’t care’ attitude.” Let me explain. In the area of which I speak there are two types of care: first, the legitimate kind you can do something about, and secondly, the illegitimate sort, of which nothing can be done. We must never worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us.

Paul tells us we are to “be careful for nothing” (full of care). That is, the latter kind mentioned above. Jesus taught His followers this type of care will cause one to lose their joy, and that the bounce in their step will cease. Unhealthy cares will directly hinder your fellowship with your Lord, as well as your brethren. Ask Martha, if you doubt me.

Those things in life we can do nothing about need to be thrown to the wind. Family, business, health, and politics, along with all other unsolvable problems, need to be treated as the chaff the Bible speaks of. “Let them be as chaff before the wind...like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” If you do not, that chaff will smother you to death. As someone has said, “It is okay to be on top of the feather bed, just don’t let it get on top of you.” My friends, let’s stay on top of things, and throw the rest to the wind!”

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Bonus of Obedience

"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” (Deut. 28:2)

God’s promise to His people in olden times was that they’d be overtaken by His blessings as they traveled the road of obedience. In verse five, He pledges to all who will hearken to His voice, “a basketful of blessings.” It is this sort who, in our congregations, robustly sing, “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing.”

The wise man tells us, “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Is it any wonder then that a man such as Jacob was willing to limp through life to have them? He no doubt felt, if only he could have God’s blessings upon him, anything was worth that. As a result of his desire and committal, the old man never did outrun God’s blessings, from Penuel to the end of his days; they were always catching up to, and overtaking him.

Being on God’s road of obedience does not mean perfection. It does not mean that we will not stumble and fall on our faces from time to time. But it does mean we are headed in the right direction, toward that Celestial City, with a promised occupancy for all who “obey the gospel.” But, until we arrive there, one can be sure each act of obedience to the Lord will be followed by God’s blessings. And I have found in my own life, they can catch-up real fast!

God’s great promise to His obedient children is, “I will... open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Thought for Thinkers

Any regular reader of The Journal is aware of the fact each article, for the most part, is to challenge thought. These essays are not for “spoon-fed” Christians, but rather for those who desire to go a little deeper and hold their breath a little longer than the average, without boasting of the fact they’re capable of doing so.

One of the many descriptive terms God chose that His people might betterunderstand His various attributes, and character is, The Word. Now we know a word is a direct result of a thought, therefore, our God is a thinker. Thus, being made in His likeness and image, He gave us a mind to think with. And, generally speaking, each adult individual is capable of thinking for himself or herself.

It is to these independent thinkers I have a warning. I have found thinkers are more prone to be worriers than those who keep their minds always out of gear and in neutral. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says it so well. “Thinking is right up to a point, but if you go beyond that point it becomes worry and anxiety and it paralyses and cripples. In other words, although it is very right to think about [particulars], it is very wrong to be controlled by [them].”

 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jesus' Prayer in Darkness

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying...My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

The doctrinal implications of this scripture are, to say the least, heart rending. But so too is its practical application. This utterance from the Cross was from one of David’s Psalms. Was this twenty-second Psalm a present and personal experience with David, as well as being prophetic? Or was it only speaking prophetically of Christ’s day? Both Isaiah and Job faced times of deep darkness in their lives, as well as David. Saint John of the Cross refers to these times as, “The Dark Night of the Soul.”

Nevertheless, none has ever gone through the gloom of blackness our blessed Lord suffered. Three truths caught my attention while reading this text recently. First, God was still His God, even when He seemed to have no God. Second, He still prayed, although He did not have a prayer hearing or answering God at the time. Third, He wanted all around Him to know (He cried with a loud voice), that in spite of the circumstances, He continued to believe in His God, and He would go on praying to Him, though the heavens were brass.

Let me speak to all such who may be experiencing these long dark nights. Remember, “Joy cometh in the morning.”  Mark tells us, after Christ’s long ordeal, “very early in the morning...at the rising of the sun,” new life entered Jesus. And so it will be with you dear suffering saint of God. I beg you; see it through till the end! For I guarantee on the authority of God’s Word, you’ll walk again in “newness of life.”