Saturday, November 30, 2013

Old School Theology

I think in every generation there has been a small remnant of believers "born out of due time." Those who do not fit; who seem to be always-out-of-step with their generation of "toy soldiers." Who think outside the box, and are almost impossible to intimidate.

In this article I'm speaking of a residue of saints that believe there must be a preliminary work of the Holy Ghost in a life before anything spiritual will come to past, whether it be salvation, sanctification, or glorification. We still believe, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."  

Most certainly, we accept the Divine partnership, as Peter tells us, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us."  Most always in scripture God uses the human along with the Divine. His way is, "In the mouth of two witnesses." The Spirit being the one, and us the other. But in this narcissistic age we have sacrificed the former for the latter.If the Holy Spirit is absent then there is an absence of life.

To illustrate my point, you'll remember when Andrew found the Messiah, he immediately found his brother Peter and said, "We have found the...Christ. And he brought him to Jesus." But some time later when Jesus asked Simon who He was, his answer was, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And what was Jesus' response? "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee (Andrew had), but my Father which is in heaven." Man can relate who He is. But only God can reveal who He is."

Christianity is a Holy Ghost religion! And if we are to survive, we had better get back to it. As far as I'm concerned, "Give me that old time religion."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Spittin' Image

"He also did predestinate [us] to be conformed to the image of His not conformed to this world." 

Matthew Henry says, "None can know their election but by their conformity to the image of cannot be a temptation to any to be conformed to the world to believe that they were predestined to be conformed to Christ."

Predestination has to do with saved people. God predetermined before hand that His elect be like His Son. He has destined each who name the name of Christ to ultimately bear the moral and spiritual image of the Son of God. As the old timers used to say, "We'll be the spittin' image of Him."

A preacher visiting a mountain man noticed he was whittling on a piece of wood. Trying to get a conversation started, the pastor asked what he was making. The reply was, "An elephant," to which the man of God said, "Wow, that must be difficult!" The old man answered, "Not really, I just cut off everything that don't look like an elephant."

And so it is with us beloved, God is cutting away everything in our lives that does not look like Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Not the Calves in the Stall/But the Calves of Our Lips

“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Not lambs—but our lips are to be our sacrifice to God. And along with it, we are to bring the sweet incense of praise and thanksgiving. “For with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

It is not difficult to be thankful when all is well; but when everything is seemingly against us, to give thanks then, that is Christianity at its finest. Therefore, let us heed Hosea’s admonition and, “render the calves of our lips. The only ones who refuse to do so say, Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?” When He is Lord of our lips, we will offer this sacrifice He so desires from us.

There were two sisters, the younger bed-ridden, and on a breathing machine 24/7. The older sister who cared for her, returning from church one Lord's day, found the younger exuberant with joy. The caring sister asked the cause of her excitement, to which she replied, "O,Sister, I'm so thankful to God, I was able to breath on my own for five minutes today." 

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Keep Your Helmet On

In the garden of Eden, speaking prophetically, God said Satan would bruise Christ's heal (temporary wound), and that Christ would bruise Satan's head (permanent wound). Because of this latter truth it is imperative as Christian soldiers we put on the helmet the Lord has provided us. A first century Roman soldier when suddenly attacked, after reaching for his sword and shield would lay hold on his helmet.

Satan's main battle is for our minds. That is our intellect, understanding, thinking, our brain if you please. Paul feared Satan would corrupt the minds of the Christians of his day, as he did Eve in the garden. The old communist manifesto said something akin to, "Wars are not won by weapons, but by ideals. Therefore get a man to think your way and you have defeated him."

The helmet the Lord has furnished us with speaks of a mind controlled by God. What a tragedy that so many Christians today have the idea the intellect is not important, when in reality it has so much to do with our growth, service, and victory. Remember, everything that is in your heart came by way of the door of your mind.

In the classic story of David and Goliath found in 1 Sam. 17, we find a great practical truth. When the giant approached the shepherd boy he had a helmet of brass upon his head (v.5). But he had evidently sat down along the way. It says in verse 48, "When the Philistine arose."  Seeing such a small figure he must have become overconfident and left his helmet lying where he had been sitting, thinking it was not needed. But that was the ruin of him.

And so will it be with each of God's elect that do not take seriously the Divine protection of their minds.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Ever Present Past

My daughter Leah texted me something she heard recently, "Only a fool trips on what's behind him." How many of us are habitually tripped up by our past. Whether victories or defeats, by constantly going back to them is futile. Our past is history, we cannot re-write it. Those who attempt to undo the unpleasantries only make them worse; and each time we return to previous achievements, they lose some of their original luster.

To live one's present life in the past is to feed upon stale, moldy bread.

Memories, good or bad, are not the material a person builds his or her life on. Many have mortgaged the present by the past. Don't allow the past to cripple you in the present. Occupy yourself with what is, not what was. Don't waste your time or energy in the past.

As Martyn LLoyd-Jones says, "We must never for a second worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us."

"Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Learning to Live With Your Thorn

"There was given to me a thorn in the flesh." I'm of the opinion, only Godly saints, used of the Lord to be a blessing to others, carry a thorn in their flesh. All efforts to identify Paul's thorn are at best only speculation. God ordained all who possess a "grieving thorn," as Ezekiel refers to it, can relate to Paul's, because of this very fact of not knowing. God's thorn is a reminder of who God is and who we are. Lest we be puffed up with pride, the thorn punctures our inflated egos to let the air out.

It is something one bears in his or her body 24/7. Always conscious of it, but not always plagued by it. It is not something that will come to pass, but is here to stay. No amount of prayer will remove it. Paul spent fourteen years asking it be taken from him. To do so is to have the Lord say to us, as He did to Moses, "Speak no more unto me of this matter."  Therefore, our choice is either to endure it, or as the apostle did, embrace it. This is not as difficult once you determine the thorn is a gift from His hand.

It is important that thorn bearers come to grips with the fact it is a life-long affliction, and when things get bad from time to time, remind ourselves Jesus knows what it's like to have a thorn in the flesh.

God uses our thorn to tack back the veil that leads us into the Holy of Holies. (A Puritan Saying)


Friday, November 22, 2013

Laymen/The Unsung Heroes

Had God not called me to preach, as I now look back, I would have considered it a great honor and privilege to have lived my life among the ranks of the laity. Where would preachers be in the absence of these saints in the shadows? I must embarrassingly admit that as a young pastor I thought of myself a notch above my people, but now realize, in reality, I was less than the least of any of my dear flock.

Some years ago, I preached a sermon at a camp meeting in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. In the message I exalted lay-people. Afterward, an elderly couple that had been in that particular church for thirty years, said to me, “Preacher, until I heard you tonight, I always considered myself a second-class Christian. In this “Nicolaitan” (clergy above the people) age, many today are of the same opinion.It might be well to remember,dour Lord spent thirty years as a layman, doing carpenter work, and only three as a preacher.

A little kindergarten girl tried out for her school's Christmas play. Her mother knew she didn't have a chance, but tried not to discourage her from trying. Picking her up after tryouts, expecting a tearful daughter, she instead saw a jubilant little girl. Running to the car, she cried, "Oh, mother, mother, I got the part. I get to clap and cheer!" And so can we my friends.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The End of the Lord

"Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." 

A little leaguer playing third base was cheering his team on, in spite of the fact the score was twenty-one to nothing. An observer from the sidelines asked how he could be so positive in light of the dismal score. The little urchin replied, "Shucks, mister, we ain't even been up to bat yet!"

It is important when going through the trials of life to keep your attention, not on the present, but the end results. That piece of pottery in the furnace alone can feel abandoned at times. But then comes the end, when the potter takes it from the fires a vessel unto honor.

Job, like Abraham, had a strong faith ("Though he slay me, yet will I truest in Him") but a weak flesh ("Why died I not from the womb?"). When going through a variety of miseries, it is not uncommon for God's people to teeter-totter between the flesh and faith. But you can be sure, faith will win out in the end.

The end will crown all! If we will but patiently wait, we'll see "that the Lord is very pititiful, and of tender mercy." As Matthew Henry says, "His bounty is manifested afterwards!"  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

They Go Together

"...but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God doesn't take away the temptation, but rather provides a way to bear up under it. He doesn't take away the one when supplying the other. Joseph's temptress  remained after his escape. And the three Hebrew children were still in the fire although it did not have any effect upon them.

And so it is with such things as peace; turmoil still remains. Just as affliction continues once grace has entered into the picture. And the blahs linger on, even when joy has replaced them. And what warrior has not known the enemy to still fight long after you have won the victory? 

And why does God permit this? Simply because we would never know the one was legitimate if the other were absent. It takes the negative to prove the positive. In such cases you do not deny the reality of the former, but its right to rule. 

The secret of the Christian life is "appropriation" (the act of taking for one's own).  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Don' Give Up On God

In Psalm 81:14 God tells His people, “I should soon have…” The context, verses 11 through 16, show they couldn’t wait for God, but rather gave up on Him. Their clocks, like our own, ran fast. How many have given up on the Lord, not knowing the answer was on it’s way, right around the corner, so to speak? As someone has said, “It’s always too soon to give up.”

When your need seems slow in coming, remember the “raven” is on it’s way...Don’t give up! When life feels useless, think of John the Baptist in the wilderness all those years...Don’t give up! When your prayers are not answered immediately, remind yourself of Daniel’s three week wait...Don’t give up! When deliverance looks afar off, read about the three Hebrew children...Don”t give up! When darkness is prolonged, take Job for your example, see the end of the Lord...Don’t give up!

Some will never know what would have happened in their lives had they waited for the Lord just a little longer. Throughout scripture, God is known to wait before taking action on His children’s behalf. “God waited in the days of Noah.” And so, we need to learn to wait on a waiting God. “Therefore will the Lord wait...Blessed are all they that wait for Him.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Learning the Word

Darling David said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted;that I might learn thy statutes (Word).” David knew the “letter” of God’s Law; but in his affliction he learned the “spirit” of the Word. That is, the underlying and deeper meaning.

A preacher friend, now with the Lord, exemplified the above truth to me years ago. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and knew first hand the meaning of affliction. He asked me why God wanted Abraham to offer up Isaac? My immediate answer was “He was a type of Christ, says Hebrews.” Bill said, “True, but is there also not a deep spiritual meaning?” Then continued, “Two equal loves cannot coexist, one love must die.”

Affliction has a way, if you’ll pardon the expression, of putting clothes on naked truth. Suffering makes truths we have long known come alive. Truths that had laid dormant, suddenly have new meaning. They bleed, weep, and hurt like we ourselves. An example of this is when we put Joseph’s clothes on Romans 8:28. It is then the latter means so much more to us.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Those Blessed Psalms

My wife has a book by C.S. Lewis entitled, Reflections on the Psalms. Whenever I see it I’m reminded again of how I, along with a multitude of others, love this precious book. Through the years, I have jotted down some little personal notes in the heading this book. I’d like to share some of these thoughts with you today, if you don't mind:

1. The Spirit-filled believer is drawn to Psalms (Eph.5:18-19).

2. Much of the book is autobiographical...about David's personal life.

3. There is a Balm in Psalms. It’s the “Gilead” of the Bible (Jer.8:22 a, cp. Gen.37:25).

4. It is in the very heart of the Bible because it’s to the heart.

5. David’s physical foes have become our spiritual enemies today
(1Cor.10:6 a, 11).

6. Look for Jesus when you read the Psalms (Luke 24:44 cp. Psl.2:2 and  Acts 4:26).

A Psalm a day will bring the Great Physician your way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Invaluableness of the Insignificant

"Those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary...those... which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour."  

It takes some of us a long time to realize that no brother or sister is beneath us; sad to say, some never come to this conclusion. They cannot, for some reason or the other, bring themselves to "esteem the other better than themselves." I guess it is the Pharisee in us that causes us to look down our noses on others.

Paul tells us some of the important things pertaining to this life are to be handled by them "who are least esteemed." We need to constantly be aware that true wisdom many times is dressed in a poor man's garment (Eccl.9:15). It is that unobserved man or woman who, in many cases, bring great deliverance to our lives. Throughout the Old Testament you find some commonplace saint stepping from the shadows to be a great blessing in the lives of others.

When Jacob blessed Pharaoh, we see the lesser blessing the greater. I'd rather have the blessings of the humblest child of God bestowed upon my life than anything this religious world can offer! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

*My Mentor Was Right

Dr. Joe Henry Hankins used to say to me, “Sonny boy, none of of us are as dedicated as we think we are.” How very true I’ve found this to be in my own life. As Eliphaz said to Job, “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.”

Darling David assures us, “God knoweth our frame; He remembereth we are dust.” He knows what we are made of, even though we are prone to forget it. We are not Herculean; we are human! God is not surprised at our frailties; it is we who are shocked to see and admit to our fragilities. We are prone to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Also, we’re likely to think this of others when observing those whom we deem great men and women of God. Let us remember, all of us at our very best are but dust. Let not dust glory in dust.     

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where Do I Start?

Life can be confusing at times. Things can become so muddled that it is not clear what one should do. You don’t want to go back; you’ve been there. And to go forward is not wise, especially when, in your situation, the fog is so thick it can be cut with a knife. What does a baffled Believer do when he or she has no desire to go back, and his or her future is not clear?

You do the next thing! You start from where you’re at. You begin from the starting point, and that launching pad is always where you are presently. As the old adage states, “There is no time like the present.” I've observed those who make it in life are the ones who are continually doing what’s next, even when the next thing is unpleasant and difficult. Think of the advancement in just one year of following this rule.

David tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.” Here we see the principle we’ve been speaking of. David saw where he was at, and knew, as he did the next thing, his path would be enlightened. This, no doubt, is what the wise man meant when he penned, “But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

If we begin now, we’ll arrive sooner than if we waited!