Friday, May 31, 2013

Homesick for God

I will arise and go to my Father”

I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said he thought the story of the Prodigal Son was the greatest piece of literature ever written. It had all the ingredients to make it so. I personally was drawn to Christ from the preaching of this magnificent narrative.

Contrary to popular option, the son is not the main character, but the father. It was not the house the boy ached for, but his father. It was a person he was homesick for, not a place. As a teenage boy returning from Korea, it wasn’t the old dilapidated dwelling I longed for, but my precious little mother I yearned to see. Wherever she was, was home.

In a sermon by George H. Morrison entitled, “Homesickness of the Soul,” he tells the following story.

“One of the saddest letters in all literature is a letter written by our own poet, David Gray. David Gray was born eight miles from Glasgow; he went to the Free Church Normal in this city. His honest father would have made a preacher of him, but God forestalled that by making him a poet. Well, nothing would satisfy David but he must go to London. He suffered much there and fell into consumption. And this is one of his last letters home:— ‘Torquay, Jan. 6, 1861. Dear Parents,—I am coming home—homesick. I cannot stay from home any longer. What’s the good of me being so far from home and sick and ill? O God! I wish I were home never to leave it more! Tell everybody that I am coming back—no better: worse, worse. What’s about climate, about frost or snow or cold weather, when one’s at home? I wish I had never left it. . . . I have no money, and I want to get home, home, home. What shall I do, O God! Father, I shall steal to you again, because I did not use you rightly. . . . Will you forgive me? Do I ask that? . . . I have come through things that would make your hearts ache for me—things that I shall never tell to anybody but you, and you shall keep them secret as the grave. Get my own little room ready quick, quick; have it all tidy, and clean, and cosy, against my homecoming. I wish to die there, and nobody shall nurse me except my own dear mother, ever, ever again. O home, home, home!’”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Truth about Truth

My dear mother often quoted the little quip, “Some people wouldn’t know the truth if it was staring them in the face.” Pilate was such a one. He asked Jesus, “What is truth?” and it was standing before him.

God’s truth can be found in one of two places: on paper, or in a Person. Jesus said, “I am the...truth.” And the Bible tells us, “Thy Word is truth.” And these two agree in one, the incarnate and the inscribed.

God’s truth is always raw, naked, and unvarnished. He doesn’t disguise it with cosmetic coating or in decorative dress. In the case of God’s truth, what you see is what you get. Spurgeon says,’ Truth will only be desired by truthful men.”

As in the day of the Judges, so it is in our own, “In those days ...every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes.”  The final authority in all matters pertaining to time and eternity is to be found only in the Christ of God and His Word! Don’t argue saying, “what meaneth this,” but concentrate on, “what saith the scriptures.”

“One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.”
(C.S. Lewis)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Corinthian Culture

They teach Sunday school classes, preach, sing, usher, and hold important church offices. They are professing Christians who are in good standing among many of their brethren in our assemblies. They’re husbands, wives, young adults, friends, and neighbors. No one dare speak out, for who are we to throw stones. And God have mercy on the one who mentions church discipline. In fact, this generation of Christians would not understand the meaning. I’m speaking of the vast amount of fornicating Christians around us. Or should I say, professing Christians.

Many permissive saints may not think much of the immorality that prevails amongst the so-called followers of Christ today, but that is only because of their ignorance. Or is it their cowardice?

The following scriptures show what God thinks of this wicked sin. By the way, you can forget revival in your church until this mess is cleaned up.
 
THUS SAITH THE LORD
Write unto them, that they abstain from...fornication.

It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you.

Now the body [is] not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. Flee fornication. Every sin  that  a man  doeth is  without  the body; but he that committeth fornication  sinneth  against  his own  body.

Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own  husband.

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication ...which they have committed.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are...fornication.

But fornication ...let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth...fornication.

For this is the will of God [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah...giving themselves over to fornication...are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance  of eternal  fire.

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them...who taught...the children of Israel...to commit fornication.

And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

And the woman... arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and  pearls...and filthiness of her fornication.

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator... with such an one no not to eat.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prayers Prioritiy

One of the first things we read of our Lord at the outset of His public ministry was He began it with prayer. Of the spiritually new born Saul of Tarsus, we read, “Behold, he prayeth.” He started his Christian life in the fetal position. And those early preachers said, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word.”

In each of the above cases its apparent prayer had top priority, even over ministering. I personally believe most, if not all problems, whether in church or our personal lives, are prayer problems. If you don’t think prayer works, stop doing it; many have, to their own detriment.

An old evangelist used to say, “Much prayer, much power; little prayer, little power.” Powerlessness is a direct result of prayerlessness! When the Bible says: “Pray without ceasing,” “Instant in prayer,” Praying always,” “Continue in prayer,” In everything by prayer,” “Watch unto prayer,” “Night and day praying,” it seems to be placing prayer as the first rung on our spiritual ladder. If that be the case, then our spiritual life will go no higher than our prayer life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When It Rains It Pours

I like to use quips both in conversation and my writings, especially when they have a scriptural principle. Concerning the title of our article, don’t you think this axiom could have originated with Noah? Sayings such as, “It rained buckets full,” and the idea of a, “rain barrel” may well be traced back to his day.

As severe as this trial was upon the old man, there was a silver lining, a multi-colored one, if you please. And like Israel’s cloud, although this test had its dark side, it had its bright side also.  God promised it was a one-time thing. Once it passed, it would not happen again. As we’re so often told in the Bible, “And it came to pass.”

In spite of the prolonged darkness and being tossed to and fro for what Noah must have felt an eternity, he saw the sun shine again through the upper window. After being shut-in for so long a time, he was once again able to place his feet on solid ground. The storm had passed and everything was now new. There was freshness in the air; it was a new beginning.

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Christian's History

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

When a Christian sins and confesses it, in God’s sight, it is like he never sinned at all. The Blood of Christ both forgives and cleanses away all sin. To continue to ask God’s forgiveness for the same sins over and over again, I am sure grieves Him. Like Joseph, when his already forgiven brothers asked him to forgive them a second time, “Joseph wept.”

But, praise His name, it goes even deeper than that. Once you acknowledge and repent of your sin, it is just as though you were newly formed. Like Adam, when created a new, he had no previous history. And a renewed Christian has no past history of sins. So when you pray repeatedly, asking for forgiveness for the same sins, like the gospel songs says, God asks, “What sins are you talking about?

Arise, my soul, arise
Shake off your guilty fears
The bleeding sacrifice
On my behalf appears
Before the throne my surety stands
Before the throne my surety stands
My name is written on His hands

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Anemic Christians?

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine of office.”

Jesus’ ministry was distinctively Jewish, as were the apostles; the exception being Peter’s initial opening the door to the Gentiles. All church truths are to be found in the Pauline epistles. As I often say, “All the Bible is for us, but not all the Bible is to or about us.” In the Gentile’s classroom, our professor and teacher is Paul, “Whereunto I am appointed ...a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Lift Paul’s fourteen letters (I include Hebrews) from their setting, and you’re left with utter confusion. He is the one person ordained by our Lord to reveal to the Gentiles all the truths Jesus Himself was not able to communicate to His followers while here on earth. The Gospels tells of the earthly historic Christ, but Paul’s epistles reveal the eternal heavenly Christ.
Without Paul’s writings we would know nothing of great doctrines like justification, sanctification, adoption, regeneration, etc. We’d be totally ignorant of such things as the Holy Spirit’s ministry, and our in-depth relationship to the risen Christ. Such as being “in Him” and “raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus.” It is Paul alone who explains all these intricacies, along with a host of other blessings that belong to Gentile believers in the Body of Christ.
O, my friends, I am aware I have written on this theme on several occasions, but know this; I will continue to do so till taken Home. After seeing the Lord, I want to meet this “little Jew” who saved me from so great heartache and anguish on my pilgrim journey. Francis A. Schaeffer has a book entitled, “How Then Shall We Live?" If you want to know the answer to this, begin now to read Paul’s letters. And then, continue to do so!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where the Ice Cream Fits In

Years ago, I remember a popular song entitled, “Three Little Words.” Today, I would like to discuss three words from scripture and their practical meaning. The first of these is justice, which means, “getting what you deserve.” The second is mercy. This is “getting less than one deserves.” And lastly, grace, which is getting more than a person deserves.

Let me illustrate how this trio fits together. A father made plain to his son that if he disobeyed again the boy would receive ten swats. And, of course, the inevitable happened. In the child’s bedroom, the father proceeded with the punishment, but stopped at nine swats. After they had prayed together and hugged, the father took his son to a nearby ice cream parlor. While sitting at the table enjoying their ice cream, the father looked at his boy and said, “Son, the ten swats I promised was justice, but withholding one was mercy, and the ice cream you are enjoying so much—is GRACE!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Stars and the Flowers

“He made the stars...Consider the lilies of the field”

We Christians are in great danger of forgetting that He who supernaturally made the stars of heaven also supernaturally made the flowers of the earth. The One who bade us to look at the stars, told us to look at the flowers also.

There are those who like to constantly remind us of this sin-cursed earth, and the “whole world lieth in wickedness.” Thus, they teach, we are to have nothing to do with it, nor enjoy it. But I would remind those who only look at the stars, as though that is more spiritual, to read the scripture that declares, “Behold...the heavens are not clean in His sight.”

The Bible consistently connects heaven and earth. The One who call the stars by name, calls His sheep by name. Throughout the Word, God teaches His children they are to enjoy both the heavenly and earthly. When God made promise to Abraham concerning his seed to come, He not only said, “Look now toward heaven...” but also said, “Lift up now thine eyes and look...” (referring to the dust of the earth).

Yes the earth is cursed, and the heavens are not clean. But for now, it’s like having a lovely child hideously scarred in a car accident; the scars do not take away all the child’s lovely characteristics. Someday there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. God will perform an eternal plastic surgery and reconstruction on all those things that have been cursed by the fall. But never forget, until then we can enjoy both.

David enjoyed the stars. And a greater than David said we could take delight in the lilies of the field as well.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Song Says It

This world, as we know it, is anything but original, they’re plagiarists. Most if not all their movie plots, quips, story books, songs, etc., that have any substance, can be traced directly to the Bible. For example, the song, “People Who Need People.” Scriptures teach this truth throughout. Even the man Christ Jesus, in His humanity, needed others.

In spite romanticizing loners and depicting them as different from all the rest of the flock, they’re a very lonely people. And I might add, always in danger. Used rightly, the saying, “There is safety in numbers,” is true. “Woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up.

In the Old Testament, the people of Laish illustrate this fact. They lived independent of all others, and within themselves. They were isolationists! When trouble came, they had no one to come to their assistance. Read the following excerpts from Judges, chapter eighteen.

“[They] came to Laish, and saw the people that [were] therein, how they...had no business with [any] man...And [there was] no deliverer, because ...they had no business with [any] man.”

Sooner or later, everybody needs somebody. It’s good to have neighbors help put out the flames when your house is on fire. You’ll not be able to do it alone.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Choice of Means

"God... devises means...” So says the wise woman of Tekoah to David. I’ve never had a problem in God’s use of means, as long as I could be the one to pick and choose them. My difficulty arises when God does the selecting. I speak particularly of three areas.

To start with, I prefer to hand-pick those who minister the Word of God to me. I want to be the one who decides whether it is to be Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. Many of us like to choose our preachers like we do our ice cream; we only like certain flavors. And we refuse to try any other.

I also want to have a say in determining who will rebuke me. I do not cherish the thought of Balaam’s “dumb ass” correcting me. As hard as a rebuke is, I can endure it, but certainly not from one who I feel is inferior to me. Let them be at least an equal, not someone I consider beneath me.  

Lastly, there is this thing of a use of means in healing. I desire God to directly heal me, without the use of any means. I don’t want clay made out of spittle as a means in my healing. Some of us have the same problem Naaman had; we have a preconceived idea of how we are to be healed. Certainly not in the “muddy Jordon.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to go to doctors, in spite of the fact the Great Physician Himself plainly told us sick people need a physician. Like Paul needed Doctor Luke, his constant companion.

It’s good to remember, in God’s closet there are a variety of garments He disguises Himself with (the garb of a gardener). And in His tool shed are a great host of devices He uses as means (the pool of Siloam).

“For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Yesterday's Faith

“But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”

When the two disciples on the Emmaus Road said, “we trusted that it had been he,” they revealed a “has been” faith. They were sad simply because, like so many of us, they were living on yesterday’s faith.

Faith is always described as being in the present. The writer of Hebrews, in that great faith chapter, chapter eleven, says, “Now faith...” Past faith is a used up faith.  Once used, like a disposable razor, it’s to be discarded. You’re to get a fresh one. You can’t live on initial faith, it’s “from faith to faith.” You go from one to another.

Like the manna of old, if one’s faith is to be fresh, it is to be renewed daily. Yesterday’s manna, we are told, “stank.” And so does a faith that is not new.

Friday, May 3, 2013

In Defense of Small Churches

In case some of my readers are not aware, early in my ministry I pastored two separate churches over a twenty year period. A good sized one during the so called Big Church age, followed by a smaller assembly. My wife likens the change it brought in my life to going from an assembly-line worker to a craftsman.

I’m not opposed to large churches, just as long as they are not considered superior to smaller ones; and that they didn’t cut corners to achieve their size. It is important that one realize the Pentecostal Church in Acts was not the norm. Most, if not all the churches Paul founded, were on a much smaller scale. Also, he never referred to their growth in numbers, but their growth in grace. To ask some Mega- Church pastors the latter question would bring great embarrassment.

Our Lord pastored a “Little Flock,” and He was never ashamed of that fact or apologized for it. Pastor, whether your small flock of sheep meet in a storefront, the front room of your home, or a little brink building, don’t you ever let the Nicolaitan “Doctors” and “Reverends,” intimidate you. Noah only had eight in his fold, and they were all family members.

When a young preacher complained to Spurgeon he only had fifty members in his church, Spurgeon replied, “That’s fifty more than you’ll want to give account of at judgment!”

“For who hath despised the day of small things...they shall rejoice...”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Everthing Includes Little Things

The Bible tells us to pray about everything, not just big things. The “everything” includes little things. The carnal man or woman is impressed with the miraculous, but not the mundane. But to the spiritual person, answered prayer concerning those small insignificant things in life is as much a thrill as moving a mountain.

An event that took place in the life of Elizabeth Elliot illustrates my point. Several friends of hers who were mountain climbers were beginning their ascent when one of them was jarred a little, and one of her contacts fell out unto the snowy ground below. There were a lot of footprints at the bottom where it had fallen, as well as debris left by some of the group. She and Elizabeth looked diligently for the lens, since the young lady would need it to make the climb to the top. After a while, realizing the impossibility of the situation, they had all but given up. But as a last resort, decided to pray. And it was then, low and behold, they noticed a movement on the ground. And can you believe, there was a little ant dragging the lens through the snow!

Dear friend, God can help in any and all situations, big or small. Remember, He is also the LORD of the ant. “Go to the ant... consider her ways, and be wise.”