Friday, June 28, 2013

Ecclesiastes Christians

There are three types of people in this world: those with a saved life, but a lost soul; those with a saved soul, but lost life; and those with both a saved soul and saved life. During the time of this transitory experience in Solomon’s life of which he writes, he would fit into the second category of the above three mentioned.

Life at best can be perplexing at times. Hard to understand, let alone control. When we attempt to comprehend things from the human standpoint, we’re standing in the wrong place. As David said, “When I thought to know this, it [was] too painful for me.” That is, until he looked at it from God’s perspective.

It is not looking at the things under the sun, but unto Him above the sun. The Ecclesiastes Christian says, “Life is not worth living.” The Spiritual Christian, “Life is worth living.” The first finds life without God is gloomy; the second, life with God is glorious! You cannot enjoy life to its fullest without the Giver of Life’s breath upon you.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

 R.D. Sandlin

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Honorable Men and Women

The Bible speaks of both honorable men and women. And these were not honest because it was the best policy, but, for them, there was no other policy. There is only one avenue open to this sort of glowing character.  

Ludwig van Beethoven said, “To me, the highest thing after God is my honor.” Honest folks are not without faults, but they are without guile. As another has said, “The worse mistake an honest man or woman can make is an honest mistake.”

In the movie, Rob Roy, a son asks his father, “Father, what is honor?” To which the parent answered, “Son, honor is something a man gives himself, and no one can take it from him.” “An honest man or woman is the noblest work of God,” says one.

“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “honest man.” (George Washington)

 R.D. Sandlin

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't Forget the "So Great..."

The writer of Hebrews, whom I believe was Paul, refers to that greatest of all events in a Christian’s life as, “So great salvation.” All else in the Christian life is like tinsel on a tree. Everything hangs on that one thing. Once you have forgotten, “the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged,” and those blessed punctured hands which dug us out of that filth and mire, we are left void of any real spiritual substance.

When the devil has been permitted to strip God’s child of everything, there is one thing that stays eternally intact: his salvation. I love the way hurting Habakkuk puts it, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wisely advises, when all around us, things get hazy and we’re uncertain, to come back to our one sure foundation. “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation.” When the waters threaten to overflow us it is wonderful to feel that ROCK under you.

“I sink in deep waters,” cried a dying man. “All His waves and His billows go over me.” Then said the other, “Be of good cheer, my brother. I feel the bottom, and it is good.”

 R.D. Sandlin

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Those Blessed Blahs

There is nothing in my writings for the “Super Saint.” Those superior beings that would have us believe they do not experience the everyday downsittings and uprisings of us common folk.

This “spiritually elite” crowd, by their teachings, has been the cause of more of God’s people giving up on themselves and God than any other group. They set before us a life that is not attainable, for us or them. “Woe unto you...for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”

Our lives are not generally lived on the mountaintop, but rather in walking through the valley. It is not party time all the time. The normal Christian life is changing diapers, mowing the lawn, going to work, doing dishes, studying for exams, and a host of other duties we would consider drudgery. The above are anything but stimulants for living the deeper life.

The following are some excerpts from Oswald Chambers quotes on drudgery. I believe he excels all others on this subject.

"Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is.”

“The greatest hindrance of our spiritual life lies in looking for big things to do; Jesus Christ “took a towel. . . .”

“Are we refusing to enter the domain of drudgery?”

“Through the drudgery of work the man himself is developed.”

“The most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen’s feet.”

"It requires the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved life.”

“It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it.”

"The height of the mountaintop is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley. We never live for the glory of God on the mount; we see His glory there, but we do not live for His glory there; it is in the valley that we live for the glory of God.”

R.D. Sandlin

Monday, June 24, 2013

A World Out of Control

This world is spiraling downward and becoming worse as it approaches its point of impact. Yet most of us foolishly believe shifting our weight from one side of our seat to the other and holding tighter to the armrests, we can bring it back to normal. At such times, the only rational thing to do is trust your pilot, the actual one at the controls.

We are the last to admit, if ever, that we aspire to be the one in control. Whether it’s people or happenings, we wish our hand to be on the throttle. Even in out of control situations we ridiculously think we can bring things to a safe conclusion. In spite of the fact some of us have been in a thousand crashes, during times we took the Captain’s seat.

God wants us to trust Him at the controls. From Genesis to Revelation, God places His people in circumstances beyond their control. He does this both collectively, as Israel at the Red Sea, and individually, like Daniel in the den of lions.  At such times, some of us shamefully “reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.”

But the Bible gives us an object we can learn from. When little eaglets are pushed out of their comfortable nest into a frightful free-fall, they find their mother has spread her wings under them, as a safety net, so to speak. And so it is with the people of God. In that horrific spin downward, just before that dreaded moment we find, “Underneath [are] the everlasting arms.”

 R.D. Sandlin

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let's Pray About It-No!

I understand the conventional and acceptable thing to say in any situation is, “Let’s pray about it.” But woe be to the man or woman who suggests, “Let’s think about it first.” Behind all meaningful prayer you will find sanctified thought. Think it through, then pray it through.

When Paul mentions making our requests known to God, it necessitates prior thought. Esther was ready to make her request known to the king when asked, because she had thought her petition through. We give more thought to what we will request of a banker than our King.

My wife and I visited a church some years ago and I was asked by the pastor to lead the congregation in prayer. I hesitated a few moments to gather my thoughts. While I was doing so, he once again asked, thinking I had not heard him.

I wonder sometimes when some of us come to God in prayer, if He doesn’t ask the angels, “What will this babbler say?”

R.D. Sandlin

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monotony in Prayer

Take Christ out of our service to God and you find boredom; leave Him out of your prayers and you’re faced with monotony. Prayer, like the Bible, is to be Christological to the core. One reason our prayers, both privately and publically, are so dry and dull is because there is so little of Jesus in them.

What a wilderness we make of our prayer life when, as one old divine puts it, we have “untheological devotions.” Paul was a great intellect, as well as theologian, but we see Paul at his very best in his prayers. I read recently somewhere that Paul was our master teacher in divinity, but especially in devotion. He fell asleep at night full of praise and prayer to Christ Jesus, and in the morning he began again where he had left off the previous night.

I encourage each of you to take note, when reading Paul’s epistles, how he fills his prayers with the person of Jesus Christ. Nowhere will you see this man’s magnificent mind and great heart revealed more than in his prayers. It was, Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus, Jesus, my Lord, Christ Jesus, Christ, and the Lord Jesus Christ, in every prayer of his. He knew how to get God’s ear; he incessantly bragged on His Son. Nothing will endear God to a man or woman like constantly speaking to Him of His only begotten Son.

God never tires in hearing such prayers. And you can always be assured of an immediate audience when such prayers are offered up!
R.D. Sandlin

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Majority Report

“If God be for us, who [can be] against us?

When God is for you, your minority status moves up to majority. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to tell his preacher boys, “When you and God enter a town, you’re with the majority.” Therefore, the popular saying, “Daniel in the lion’s den,” to be Biblically correct, should be, “The lions in Daniel’s den.” God is not now, nor has He ever been, or will He be in the future, in the minority.

God is the supreme eternal majority: He can out wit, out vote, out fight, out think, out maneuver, out last, and out run, any and all, from eternity to eternity. He always has the last say and deciding vote in every situation. If God is against you, it matters not who is for you. Ask Pharaoh.

Jesus was always conscious of the fact that His crowd was in the majority. On one occasion, He mentioned He could call twelve legions of angels if He so desired, and God would presently supply them. If you use a Roman legion as a standard, that would be 72,000 angels. The full strength of a legion was 6,000 men. You might recall in the Old Testament one angel killing 185,000 of His people’s enemy.

Elisha’s Prayer

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

ONE MAN OR WOMAN OF GOD IS THE MAJORITY!

R.D. Sandlin

 

 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lifetime Repentance

“God...granted repentance unto life.”

When the Methodist preacher, William Taylor, was asked what he would choose for a gift in his old age, he answered, “Repentance unto life.” In his book, The Apostle Paul, Alexander Whyte writes, “If you are well read in Paul’s old-age Epistles you will find far more repentance unto life in his last years, than even in his years of immediate conversion and remorse. You meet with an ever deeper bitterness at sin, and at himself, as time goes on with Paul: and, then, a corresponding amazement at God’s mercy.”

Studying Paul’s Christian life from start to finish you’ll find the following: at the beginning he says, he is “the least of the apostles”; later on, that he is “less than the least of all saints”; then, as an old man, declares, “I am chief [of sinners].” It is well to remember, “Christ in you,” does not negate the sin that is in you. The more Christ fills our lives the more sinful we will see ourselves to be. The Biblical principle is that light manifests darkness. This, seeing one’s sinfulness, is not a bad thing, but rather a good thing. It is here we learn true mercy and grace!

When a saint believes he or she is getting worse in God’s sight, in reality, they are getting better.”

Saturday, June 15, 2013

God Makes Room for Other Things

We read in the Old Testament of the continual sacrifice, not that the people of Israel did nothing else but sacrifice—but because they had their stated hours, every morning and evening when they offered. Therefore it was called the continual sacrifice.

The word “continual,” does not necessarily mean continued succession without interruption. When continuing on a long journey there are enjoyable intervals when we take breaks, like stopping at a scenic location, eating at a nice restaurant, or staying at a beautiful resort.

Some poor soul’s think they must be in a “spiritual” atmosphere at all times if they are to please God. Bible conferences, revivals, camp meetings, etc. We are not meant always to live at God’s house; we have our own house! “And every man went unto his own house.”

Like Peter of old, certain saints like living on mountain-top experiences with God, while neglecting to enjoy the world He made for them. Remember, God gave time for Moses, the Law giver, to enjoy a relaxing meal with his father-in-law. And Jesus paused along the way to the Cross to take pleasure in gazing on the lilies of the field.

And let’s not forget, when Jesus told His mother, “I must be about my Father’s business,” He was taking time out to enjoy a young couple’s wedding.

 

 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Faith without Frills

Showing no disrespect, but real, honest to goodness, down to earth faith, is a “Plain Jane.” You might say, “There is no beauty that we should desire [her].” She is not “dolled up,” to make her more attractive. She never calls attention to herself.

True faith is modest, simple, unadorned and basic. She is not a party girl; she is a working girl. She works seven days a week, and if she isn’t working, she dies. Her job is serving as a messenger girl who carries our requests to the front office.

Whenever she is used as the means of making our “wants and wishes” known to the “ONE” in charge, you can be sure she will return with one of two things for the recipient. The desired thing we longed for, or a peace that passes all understanding that will keep our hearts and minds.

“The sovereign cure for worry is prayer.” (William James)

R.D. Sandlin
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

"The Book" and the Books

Most certainly, the Bible is the, “Book of Books!” But this does not abnegate all other books. Even Heaven has other books in its library. Paul was pre-eminently a man of “One Book,” but that does not mean it was the only book he read. Luke records he was familiar with the poets.   

As an old man shut up in prison, and on his last leg, so to speak, he told Timothy to bring his books and the parchments.  The aged saint was reading and writing up till the end. As Calvin said, “Paul has not lost his delight in books, even when he is near his death.”

Good books can make us better people. How many from the past, to this present, give testimony to the fact that it was a certain book that turned their whole life around. Paul seems to bears this truth out. “Give attendance to reading...that thy profiting may appear to all.”

Thomas Boston wrote concerning his reading of good books. “I plied my books. After earnestly plying my books, I felt my heart begin to grow better. I always find that my health and my heart are the better according as I ply my books.”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Clinging to Christ

“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”

Barnabas, we are told, “was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost.” He was known among his brethren as, “the son of consolation.”  He was sent by the church at Jerusalem to Antioch to aid those new in the faith. Upon his arrival and seeing God’s marvelous grace manifested in the lives of the young converts, he exhorted them to, “cleave unto the Lord.”

If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you’re aware this is exactly what Moses and his protégé, Joshua, urged Israel to do. The word “cleave,” as used in our context, means: to adhere, to glue, to join, or stick to. Those early Christians were encouraged, not cling to some doctrine, dogma, or denomination; but rather to, “cleave unto the Lord.”

Whatever shortcomings one might find in Jacob’s physical and spiritual makeup, you could not fault him in being a “clinger-on,” so to speak. He knew both how to hold on and hold out. True, it cost him dearly, but it was a price he was more than willing to live with the rest if his life. It forever changed the way he walked, and everyone knew it. But he didn’t care, for his God had touched him!

Inside the Holy of Holies

When Aaron passed into the Holy of Holies, he did not leave his humanity outside the veil. He took what he was inside with him. As I so often say, “We can’t run from our humanity.” Sicknesses, growling stomachs, cuts and bruises, aches and pains, and weariness, all enter into the most Holy place with us, along with our sins, failures, and idiosyncrasies.

God is not surprised by those things He discovers in us. His loving kindness is not turned away because of finding these shortcomings. It is not what we are, but what we are becoming that thrills His great heart.  He is making us into the image of His dear Son. All His children are ultimately going to be like His firstborn. Gathered around the Father’s Throne will be sons and daughters with all their Elder Brother’s characteristics.

It is then we true believers will hear the words we have all spent a lifetime waiting to hear; “These are my beloved children in whom I am well pleased.”

What about Lot?

“And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked... (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;)... The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”

When we read God delivered “just Lot,” it doesn’t mean only Lot, for others came out of Sodom with him. The word “just” is used here as in justified. The context supports this by the kindred words righteous and godly.

Professing Christians sometimes like to use Lot to defend their sinning and to prove eternal security. But, I’d remind such of the old camp meeting preacher’s statement, “Eternal security only works if you’re saved.”

The question is not, “Can a Christian sin?” The question is, “Can a Christian sin and get by with it?” Hebrews tells us if one does, and goes without any type of chastening, “then are [they] bastards, and not sons.” That is, they don’t have a heavenly Father!

But the test goes much deeper than a fear of God hurting you for sinning; it comes down to a fear of you hurting God by your sinning. David said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” There were others involved in David’s sin, yet, as far as he was concerned, it was his God who stood at the front of the line.

When I was a pastor and one of my flock doubted his or her salvation because of some horrendous sin he or she had committed, I asked only one question, “How did you feel when you sinned?” If the answer was “Awful,” they were safe-home. If there was no sensitivity, they had no home.

The word “vexed” in our above text comes from a French word, which in turn is taken from the Latin. It means: “To agitate, to trouble, afflict, harass, distress, provoke.” Again I would ask, “How do you feel when you sin?” 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It Was Good Advice

Many years ago, while serving as a pastor, I like many preachers had my share of church problems. The most trying being when a segment of influential members left. After their departure, I continued opening the sore, so to speak, in my messages. One of my best parishioners met with me and revealed that he and his family would be leaving our assembly. When asked why, referring to our past troubles, he said, “Preacher, it’s over, but you won’t let go of it.”

I had allowed the painful past to be a part of what should have, and could have, been a pleasant present. I kept my shovel handy so I could visit the graveyard daily to dig up the putrefying corpse of yesterday. I refused to heed Paul’s words, “Forgetting those things which are behind.” Like the maniac of Gadara I dwelt among the tombs. And can you believe, I wondered why I didn’t feel alive. But thank God, I finally woke up, cast aside my grave-clothes, and began again living among the living.

Maybe some of my reader’s need also to heed my friend’s advice, and leave the cemetery behind them.   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Have a Seat

“Sit ye here, while I go...yonder.”

While ministering in Ireland many years ago, I had a great Bible truth ingrained in me while watching shepherds with their sheepdogs on a mountainside. The two were inseparable, except for those times the master would command his companion to “sit.” Then, old faithful would stay, even if her friend left her sight. She would not move until hearing his order to do so or a gesture from him to indicate she should.

One of the great lessons of the Christian life is to learn simply to sit.  Mary is a good example of this. When Jesus came to town, her sister Martha, “ran” to meet Him. But it is recorded of Mary, “Mary sat [still] in the house.” And she did not move until being told, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee...As soon as she heard [that], she arose quickly, and came unto him.”

It takes a strong person to sit still. Isaiah puts it this way, “Their strength is to sit still.” Wise Naomi knew this. She told Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” And so it is with our heavenly Boaz!

All the fuss of life is gone once we “sit still” and let Him engineer things.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tagging it with God's Name

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
It’s a serious thing to tag God’s name onto our self-righteous works. His labeling is stitched into many a man-made endeavor. His name doesn’t make something cheap all of a sudden become classy. God places His own trademark on whosoever and whatsoever pleases Him; and there is no disputing it is quality material.
You’ll remember when Jacob was seeking spiritual blessings he brought God’s name into his carnal scheme. His father, Isaac, asked him how he found venison so quickly, to which he replied, “The LORD thy God brought [it] to me.” God didn’t have anything to do with it; it was Rebekah’s and Jacob’s plan from start to finish.
Putting a Hart Schaffner Marx label inside a Penney’s suit still leaves you with a cheap suit. Mark it down, what we plant won’t bloom. The world’s greatest authority said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up”.
We Christians need to cease taking God’s name in vain by forging it to our connivances.