Thursday, October 17, 2013

Educational Suffering

“Though He were a son, yet learned He obedience by the things He suffered.” Whatever else this mysterious and perplexing verse teaches, one thing is for sure,  suffering can be educational. A saint’s suffering is not for his or her destruction, but rather their instruction. Therefore, our first question should not be a “Why?” but “What?” That is, “What can I learn from this.”

The “man” Christ Jesus learned obedience; Job, patience; Paul, grace; David, the Word. There is no such thing as purposeless pain to God’s elect. Someone has said, “Present pain can bring us eternal profit.” This is true, but it can also be beneficial both to us and others in this life. Suffering need not be a limiting handicap; it can be made an invaluable advantage. Like the old saying, “Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones.”

As our dear Lord and Paul found, God may not answer our request to remove the cup of suffering, but He will rather use it for our good and His glory. And so, as my dear old Kentucky Granny used to say, “We need to make the best of it.” I read of a precious child of God who suffered her life-long with no answer from her Lord as to removal of her ailment. It was said of her, “She made magnificent bouquets out of the refusals of God.”

Why don’t some of us today either pick some flowers from our garden or stop by the flower shop.     

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy 80th Birthday, Barzillai!

"Barzillai was a very aged man...and [he] said unto the king...I am this day fourscore years old." This octogenarian’s name means iron, telling us much about his character. He stood loyal to his beloved king when David was in exile and all the odds were against him. Barzillai was as full of courage as he was full of years. And his king never forgot the kindness this old man had shown toward him. On his deathbed, David recalled it, commending Barzillai's family to Solomon's care.

This aged saint lived by a fixed star and was true to his principles to the very end. He was sane headed and warm hearted. His king would have his very best; he would follow him as fast as his fourscore years would allow him. His outward man was perishing, but he would not permit the inward man to be squandered. This magnanimous man not only showed a new generation how to live, but how to die. And he would die heavenly minded.

One of the sweetest and tenderest things in this entire account, between David and his old friend, happened when David returned to Jerusalem to reign upon his rightful throne. We are told, "The King kissed Barzillai and blessed him." O! what more could an eighty-year-old man desire than the kiss of his KING!

And it just so happens, on this very day (October 15th), I too can say, "I am fourscore years old." Can you guess what my birthday wish is?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Proper Posture in Prayer

In the Bible we have a variety of physical postures taken by God’s people when praying: they knelt,stood, prostrated, sat, and walked to and fro. Circumstances, many times, dictate what position we take in prayer.

In Scripture we find God is not as interested in our kneeling physically before Him, as He is in our bowing the knees of our heart: no matter what posture we take outwardly. If the inner man is always in the fetal position, then he is always in the spirit of prayer.

That greatly used preacher and practical philosopher, Dr. Bob Jones Sr., who mightily influenced my life said: “I’ve always been a man on the go. I pray sitting in my train compartment  as I travel to a meeting, while shaving, and as I walk across campus to speak at chapel. But I have always had the attitude, I thought I would die if God didn’t bless me.”

That, my friend, is what real prayer is all about!   

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Downs and Ups of a Child of God

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.” The worldling has his or her ups and downs, while God’s elect have their downs and ups. That is, God’s people ultimately bounce back. You know, “You can’t keep a good man down.”

David had his down moments, and he knew God knew of them. God understanding his thoughts, I’m sure, was aware David, like ourselves, wished it were not so. In an old time camp meeting, David would have given a hearty AMEN! to the quartet singing the old spiritual, “Sometimes I’m Up, Sometimes I’m Down, O, Yes, Lord!”    

Is this not why we all love the book of Psalms so dearly? The Psalmist did not go from mountaintop to mountaintop without having his valley experiences. And this was so he might appreciate and enjoy breathing that celestial air once he climbed back up.

In the Christian life, the rule is we’re to be up, the exception being when we’re down; Whenever reversed, there is dire reason for concern. I heard a preacher say once, “I’m never down. I won’t allow myself to be down.” I knew immediately I was listening to a spiritual sham or a self-deceived braggart.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yielding To Temptation

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Being tempted is not sin; giving in to it is. Therefore, it is imperative there be no flag of surrender.

I have found a great number of those who have yielded fell for the lie the devil told them, “Your temptation is greater than others, God will understand if you submit.” And so they pride themselves that their particular enticement was different from anyone else’s, among God’s people. True, it may not have been the same in kind, but it can be the same in intensity. Sorry Mr. or Mrs. Narcissus, you’re not the only one, it’s common to all.

How some love to broadcast their great temptation in front of groups, councillors, and those close to them. Interestingly, Jesus never mentioned to anyone His temptation on the Mount, nor that in the Garden. God only knows those precious souls who fought it through behind closed doors, and came out victorious. There is always a way out, As my pastor says, “When tempted, look for the escape hatch.”

It would be well for each of us who have “pity parties” when severely tempted, to remind ourselves to, “Consider HIM that endured...lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”  

“A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.” C. S. Lewis.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

God Vindicates His Own

“But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Texts such as this can be found throughout the New Testament, especially the Gospels. Not only do they prove the inspiration of the Bible, but the vindication of the prophets.

Whenever the words of God’s man or woman, speaking on behalf of the Lord, came to pass,they were vindicated. No matter how long it took. Sometimes hundreds of years had to elapse before what they said was realized as credible and authentic.

And so it will be with many of us. In spite of the fact that a great number are belittled and maligned for what they say today, down the road, possibly in the far off future, God will vindicate their testimony. You see, the grave is not silent, for “He being dead yet speaketh.”

Saturday, October 5, 2013

As Night Follows Day

The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” The old adage, “As night follows day,” simply means you can depend on it. That is, you can count on it, expect it, yes! Look for it with assurance. One will follow upon the heels of the other; it will always be close by.

And so it is with corruption,whenever you find it, you can be certain violence will soon come on the scene. Whether it be an individual, city, state, nation, or the entire earth, when corruption enters, violence will be the result.

Today, as in that of Noah (history repeats itself), corruption is universal. Extreme violence has already begun happening in many parts of the world. And don’t be deceived, we are not exempt. You can hang your hat on the fact that intense violence, such as we have never seen in our beloved nation, is at the door.

No sane, sensible person, would deny our entire country is steeped in corruption. From politics to religion, every facet of society has been severely tainted. The only answer is a Revival or His Return. Personally, I pray for the second. But if the second is on hold, then I'm for the first.

Until one of these two happens, as Noah of old, we can walk victoriously with our God in the midst of all the filth.