Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Character of God

Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person...”

Our English word character finds its roots in the Latin, Greek, and French. Taking them jointly, we come up with the meaning: to engrave, imprint, stamp, mark, or inscribe. The artists and craftsmen of Greece used this word to describe the etching on the face of a seal and the engraving of a face on a stamp.

As Caesar’s exact image was inscribed in a coin, so also is the image of God engraved in the face of Jesus Christ. That is, the character of God is seen only in Christ Jesus. As one author wrote, “The Father’s whole “character” is fully and for ever stamped and sealed upon His Son.”  

Therefore, the spiritual and moral character of God, and that of us, His children, should be our chief interest. His character, and then our own, these two things ought to most concern you and me in the whole world.

Death will one day strip us bare of all that we now pursue and possess. Only one thing shall endure for ever, the image and likeness of our characters to that of Christ. And like Him, we also shall carry to the same place the same things that He carried. And by the way, they’re the only things we possess here that are worth carrying there!

Richard. D. Sandlin

Monday, July 29, 2013

Band-Aid Solutions

"And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple."

There is a great lesson to be learned from this lame man. How many of us, like him, labor under the wrong assumption? We spend most, if not all, of our lives thinking the lesser is the answer to the greater. This pitiful paralytic thought he needed certain things, but, in reality, what he needed was just one thing— to get on his feet.

There is an imaginary need and a real need in all of our lives. The former, at best, is only temporary. The latter is permanent. Isn't it interesting, when we finally get what we feel will fix our condition, shortly after, we're again looking for new solutions. When will we ever learn, the answer is in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.

When you're totally dependent on Christ, you'll find the independence you long for.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Locking Both Doors

In one of my old revival sermons, I have an illustration of a Royal Stag. This magnificent creature would drink each evening from a pond in a meadow. Because he was blind in one eye, he always drank with his good eye toward the meadow. After observing the animal for some time, a wise hunter circled around and came at him in a canoe from the pond side. It took only one shot to fell him. He was what they call, blindsided. 

I fear far too many of us lock the front door, while leaving the backdoor opened for the enemy to enter. Samson could boast he kept that part of his Nazarite vow by not getting drunk, while committing whoredoms surpassed by few in the scriptures. Satan always comes at a time and in a way he is least expected. He knows our temperament and shoots his fiery darts at our most vulnerable area. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

“And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.”

Richard. D. Sandlin

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Cost of Putting Christ First

If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Three conditions must be realized and met before one can truly say Christ is preeminent in their life. The first requirement is a parental one; the second, personal; and the third, relates to the material. Before deciding that Jesus is going to have first place in your life, these three musts, must be considered. In the middle of our context, Christ tells His followers, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?

In that outstanding cop movie, The Untouchables, there is a great statement. Kevin Costner plays Elliott Ness, who is attempting to get Al Capone, but with no results. Sean Connery’s character is an old-fashioned Irish beat cop, Jim Malone. Ness asks Malone how he can get Capone. The old Irish cop answers his question with a question, “What are you prepared to do?”

This is the question each child of God must ask themselves from time to time when confronted with going deeper with Christ. You must consider what it will cost you, and if you’re willing to pay that price. To go all out for Christ one must offer up to Him their very life. Not in theory, but in reality! This is not a game.

Since I am an avid movie buff, allow me one last illustration. In the film, The Wind and the Lion, Sean Connery plays the part of a rugged desert chieftain with great principles. In one scene, he asks his compatriot “Is there not one thing in your life that is worth losing everything for?”

In closing this article let me ask you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, “Is there not one thing in your life that is worth losing everything for?”

Richard. D. Sandlin

 

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How Great Thou Art

“Stand up [and] bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. Thou, [even] thou, [art] LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all [things] that [are] therein, the seas, and all that [is] therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”

I remember as a young convert listening to that dear man of God, Bev Shea, sing “How Great Thou Art.” The same chill and thrill goes through my being today as it did those many years ago when sung. I likewise have a kindred feeling when I hear the contemporary worship song, “How Great is Our God.”

Darling David said of the God he adored, “Great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness [is] unsearchable.” Therefore, said he, “I will declare thy greatness.”  This is exactly what Moses exhorted the children of God to do, “...ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” And he did; listen to the Law giver, “For the LORD your God [is]...a great God...mighty.”

I’m fearful that we no longer present to the world a GREAT GOD. The One presented, even by many seasoned Christians, is not omnipotent (all-powerful), but rather, impotent (powerless). Only those with giant souls can convince mankind that their God is Great! The God of the internally dwarfed Christian is like unto them.

A.W. Tozer writes, “The first step down for any church [or Christian] is taken when they surrender their high opinion of God.”

Richard. D. Sandlin
 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Life Goes On

"...the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before." Life goes on. God never intended us to live in the miracle but in the minute. We are to be doing in the present moment not doting in past miracles.

Special and spectacular events are just that— events. They are but short parentheses in our lives. We should remember them but not attempt to relive them. They are part of the past, but the Christian life is to be lived in the now. No matter how great mountaintop experiences are, there is a normal life to be lived at its foot.

Normal Christianity is living a normal life in the Spirit.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Limitations of God

“With God all things are possible”

Upon reading my title for this article I can already hear someone cry out, “Blasphemy!” They would argue the very scripture I use proves their charge. But since we’re told the Holy Ghost teaches by comparison, let us do just that. The writer of Hebrews tells us it is “impossible for God to lie.”

Isn’t it wonderful our God is limited in this area? That there is something in the life of God even He cannot do. Magnificent I say, because it is impossible for God to break His Word! Moses puts it this way, “God [is] not a man, that he should lie...hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

But David tells us of a second limitation of God. His hands are tied by our lack of faith. Speaking of God’s people, he writes, “They...limited the Holy One of Israel.”  It seems unbelief binds God that He cannot work on His peoples’ behalf, as He would. We are told when Jesus came to His hometown, “He could there do no mighty work...because of their unbelief.”

Therefore, a limited faith can limit a limitless God! “Lord, increase our faith.”

Richard. D. Sandlin

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

The axiom I entitled this article has been in use since at least the mid-16th century. Its meaning is clear; those of similar taste congregate in groups. In our universe, we have what is called, “The law of gravitation.” But there is also another similar to it, “The law of moral gravitation.”

In the book of Acts we’re told the early Christians, as soon as they were released from prison, “...went to their own company.” The first opportunity they had to choose—they chose to go to their own kind. The real test of who and what we are is seen when we are free to choose. To whom and to what are we drawn? Rules and laws can’t change human nature.

All of us have a moral attraction. That is, we’re attracted to our own kind. We are comfortable with them. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells when, as a young medical doctor, he attended a stage-play with a worldly couple. Afterward, as they left the theater, he noticed a Salvation Army band playing hymns on the street corner. At that moment, he said to himself, “These are the people I belong to.”

I seriously question anyone who says they’re going to heaven that is not drawn to a spiritual atmosphere on earth.

Richard D. Sandlin

 

Monday, July 15, 2013

*Childhood Agonies

“How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.” “And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him.” Some of us also have experienced satanic attacks in particular areas of our lives from our youth up. We are made to believe, because of the longevity of its nature, we need not hope for deliverance. But time, distance, and condition are no problem to the timeless, eternal Miracle Worker.

Today’s psychological jargon, under the disguise of being spiritual, tells us we cannot expect change, but, rather, we are to accept these things. But whenever we determine a thing originates with Satan, and that he is the source, we are never to accept it as the norm. Those of us who have experienced child abuse, rejection, and a score of other childhood tortures, can still be freed from the agonizing memories of those dark ordeals, if we will simply come to Jesus and allow Him to deal with the devil. “But,” you say, “I do not have enough faith.” In such cases, just say, “I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” It worked two-thousand years ago and I guarantee it still does. For, you see, it worked for me.

You cannot carry the unpleasant memories of childhood into adulthood and expect to be mature.

Richard D. Sandlin

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rise up O Men and Women of God

If the devil can keep a saint of God cowering in a corner, then he or she will never break out of their prison; a prison of despair, if you please. This jail without bars will keep them bound indefinitely. Fear will so paralyze the prisoner that they will never venture beyond their 6 by 6 cell. It will be a life sentence of confinement.

The scriptures tell us when Peter lay in prison, chained between two guards, God sent His angel to deliver him. When Simon awoke to the fact and arose to follow his emancipator, it says, “and his chains fell off.” Not while Peter was passively lying there was he freed, but after he actively arose in obedient faith.

I read that in India they bind their young elephants to a stake with a straw chain. As the animal grows older and larger, it does not attempt to pull away, believing it cannot. O, beloved child of God, why not give that chain that has held you for so long a good yank by faith, remembering, Jesus came to set captives free.

 Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice,
in my behalf appears.

Richard D. Sandlin

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Top Priority

“He is before all things” And why is this? Because He was before all things; all things were created by and for Him. All things consist because of Him. All things in our universe would fall apart without Him. And so will it be in an individual’s life. He is the only one who can keep things together, whether it is the world, a church, our family, or a person’s life. If Christ is not first of all, then He is nothing at all!

The turning point in this world’s history was when it went from B.C. to A.D. Thus it was in the life of the apostle Paul. Before Christ, he simply existed, but after he met the risen Son of God, his testimony was “Christ... is [my] life.” If one used contemporary vernacular in telling Paul to, “Get a life,” his reply, I’m sure, would have been, “I have!” Christ was the very breath he breathed. When Christ became his all, he found his all.

The world’s Christ is good, but the Christ of the Lord is God. A good man is limited in how much he can do for another; the God-Man knows no limitations. And that my friend, is why I say with the great apostle, “For me to live is Christ.”

Richard D Sandlin

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Starting Point

A homespun saying I use to help those (and myself) who’ve made a mess of things in their lives, is “Begin from where you’re at.” Waiting for an opportune time is to wait in vain. The best way to take care of any type of bad situation is by starting where you’re at. Wherever “here” is, that’s where you start.

Those who refuse to start from where they are, spend their lives at the starting gate and never go anywhere in life’s race. Someone has said, “Don’t be paralyzed by the past, stay riveted on the present moment.” Yesterday is history; whether glorious or gory, it is the Sacred Now that is the secret to life.

Contrary to what most of us have been taught, we cannot go back and make a brand-new start. But we can start from now and make a brand-new ending. It is never too late to be what you might have been. You may not be that person as long as you wished, but you can die being that person with whatever time you have left.  

St Francis of Assisi once said, “Start by doing what is necessary. Then do what is possible. Suddenly, you are doing the impossible.”

Richard D. Sandlin  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Collapse of a Country

We hear much talk today, and rightly so, concerning the condition of our beloved country. How the moral fiber is being eaten away at its very foundation. And we need a return to traditional moral values. But, I would contend our problem is a spiritual one and not moral. Morality without spirituality can produce proud devils. Remember, Satan and his crowd show up as “angels.”

C.S. Lewis puts it best, I think, when he says, “Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.” To get a country or individual straightened out morally does not mean they’re right spiritually. Reformation is not regeneration. Sometimes you end up worse, Lk.11:24-26.  An external change of clothes doesn’t change the person inside those clothes.

It is important then to realize, one can have his or her own set of moral values without being truly spiritual, but it’s impossible to be Biblically Spiritual without keeping God’s moral Law. Under Grace, Paul expects New Testament Christians both to recognize and keep the Ten Commandments, (the Sabbath being replaced by the first day of the week). When any nation ceases to acknowledge and obey this moral code, they become like animals that are free from any and all moral problems. Just look at Rome, prior to its fall, if you need proof!

God destroyed Sodom, not because He couldn’t find ten moral individuals, but ten righteous persons. To paraphrase a text that you might get my meaning, “What shall it profit a man if he changes the whole world (morally), but they lose their souls?”

The best way to convert a culture is to convert it to Christ! Let’s get back to getting people saved!

Richard D. Sandlin

Friday, July 5, 2013

Taking Away the Dross

“Take away the Dross...”

One dictionary’s definition of the word dross is: Waste or impure matter; the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal as a result of oxidation; worthless, commonplace, or trivial matter.

Amy Carmichael once asked a refiner how he knew when the gold was purified. He answered, “When I can see my face in it.” Oh, child of God, should we then hate the fire that purifies the gold?

Every pain He inflicts is to lessen self’s hold on us and make us more like Him. Peter was unaware when standing at the fire that the Lord would use His own fire as a means to burn away the dross in his life.

The true worth of a saint lies beneath his or her external life. It was when God stripped Job of everything he held dear, his crown, health, wife, children, friends, finances, and reputation, you see the real value of the man.

And suffering Job understood this. Listen to him cry out from the midst of God’s fiery trial. “[When] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” And so will it be with you, my dear hurting brother and sister.

 Richard D. Sandlin

 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

**WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!

Would you like to know one of the chief difficulties in my Christian life? It is waiting on God. It seems I'm always ready when God isn't. I know it is hard for some of us to grasp, but God's delays are not denials. Whenever we wait for God, we're showing Him our complete helplessness. Every Bible saint, greatly blessed of God, knew what it meant to go through a long waiting process.

Noah waited for the promise; David waited for a kingdom; Joseph waited for deliverance; Moses waited for God's call; Zacharias and Elizabeth waited for a child; Elijah waited to be used; Paul waited for revelation; and our blessed Lord waited for God's time, working as a carpenter. You win by waiting!

Let me encourage you by listing a few scriptures. "My soul, wait thou only upon God"..."On thee do I wait all the day"..."Let none that wait on thee be ashamed"..."Wait on the Lord"..."Wait patiently for Him"..."They waited not for His counsel"..."Wait on the Lord, and keep His way"..."I will wait upon the Lord"..."We have waited for Him"..."Blessed are all they that wait for Him"..."They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength"..."They shall not be ashamed that wait upon thee"..."The Lord is good unto  them that wait for Him"..."It is good that a man should quietly wait for the Lord"..."Wait for His Son from heaven"..."Wait on God continually"..."Therefore will the Lord wait-blessed are all they that wait for Him." 

I think you get my drift.

 Richard D. Sandlin 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Power of Praise

“...to triumph in thy praise.”

Commentators have little or nothing to say on this excerpt from our text. Those who do have a comment, vary in their interpretation of it. The word praise itself, in its various forms, is found some 314 times in scripture. It is one of the most powerful and poignant words in the Bible.

Rather than concern ourselves with, “What meaneth this?” in reference to this verse, we will first, as we should with all the holy writ, emphasize, “What saith the scripture.”  And that is plain; we are triumphant when we praise our God.

Victorious Christians are praising Christians. To cease from the latter is to bring instant defeat to the former. When David was praising God we are told he was leaping over walls. But on that dark night, standing on his veranda, when praise ceased to come from his lips, he experienced the greatest setback of his life.

We are to always be praising God. But Paul tells us in the New Testament there is a particular time when it becomes special, and that is when we, “...offer the sacrifice of praise to God.”  May each of us follow darling David’s example, “Neither will I offer...offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

Praise has much more worth when it costs us!

 R.D. Sandlin