Wednesday, December 31, 2014

God's New Beginnings

God knows what it is like to start anew, not because of any failure on His part, but His creatures'. Some refer to these beginnings as dispensations, different ages, or various periods of time. Whatever the term, the Lord understands starting over again after failure (as I said, not His, ours). From the start in Eden down to the very end, when He ushers in a New Heaven and New Earth, Bible history records a series of new beginnings. 

There is something exciting about beginning anew, I liken it to when I was a boy in Ohio after the rain, on a hot summery day. It always seemed so fresh and clean afterward. Who among us cannot attest to this fact after asking parents, mate, siblings, children, or friends, "Will you let me start again?" O, the unspeakable peace and joy that fills the soul when hearing those blessed words, "Of course you can." 

But there are no words, to my knowledge, that describe the emotion that fills the soul of the child of God who says to his or her heavenly Father, "Father, I've failed again, will you please allow me to begin anew?" And to hear that loving, compassionate voice, so filled with pathos say, "My dear, dear child, have I not always? My mercy is fathomless, unending. No matter the sin or shortcoming, it will always be there for you."

I like A.W. Tozer's comment on God's forgiveness. He says whenever God forgives a man, it is like he had never sinned, like he had been newly created, with no past. Dear reader, it is not starting new at the first of year, or beginning anew at the start of each day; it goes much deeper than that. This newness is moment by moment, step by step; yes! breath by breath.      

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Something Old Something New

"Then said He unto them...the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."

The allusion here is possibly to God's people of old, bringing to the Lord of their offerings from the increase of their fruits; being from the last year's growth and this year's gathering. The treasure referring to any depository where the householder stored God's bountiful blessings.


From this we see we are not to sacrifice the one at the expense of the other. We're to offer up unto God both the old and the new. They're yoked together.As one so aptly put it, "We're to offer the product of this year and the remainder of last." 


The old testifies to what great things God hath done; the new showing us what wonderful things God is doing. Interestingly, whenever God is getting ready to bless His people with something new, He reminds them of the old, "am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."


"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
(Seneca)

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Need For Extreme Dogmatism

To me, for all practical purposes, there is a difference between
dogma and being dogmatic. Dogma, meaning a religious doctrine or system of doctrines proclaimed by the collective Church throughout the ages as authoritatively true. This word is legitimate, as long as it stays in the confines of its corral (context). But when it jumps the fence and goes wild by asserting its own individual unproved doctrines as truth, its name changes to dogmatic. Such are characterized by an arrogant, egotistical, and overbearing spirit.

A dogmatist simply takes sound dogma too far. They take a good thing to extreme until it is distorted and unrecognizable. For example: the sovereignty of God and the free will of man; faith and works; God's love and His wrath; doctrine and devotion; the local church and the true Church; etc. There are always two extremes, two dog houses, if you please, each at opposite ends of a truth and far apart. Each take one side of that truth and run off to their doghouse to feed innocent pups. There is no middle ground with a dogmatist; only his or her way or the highway! 

But having said all this, as despicable, detestable, and hideous as these dogmatists are, we owe them a debt of gratitude. Because, for the most part, many of us can attest to the fact that because of them we found our scriptural balance by observing where their teaching leads one. And it lead us back to the middle, thus saving our spiritual sanity.   

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why a Manger?

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn… And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger… And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

The word “manger” comes from the French (meaning “to eat), from the Latin “manducare” (meaning “to chew”). It was a trough carved out of wood or stone, constructed to hold food for animals. It was a feeder.

When God invaded human history, He chose a manger in which to place His newborn LAMB. Consequently, providing all the spiritual nourishment hungry souls will ever need. Born in that little town of Bethlehem (house of bread) was a little Infant who would be referred to as “The Bread of Life.”
We’re told, Him lying in the manger was a “sign.”  Most certainly, one of which would be His accessibility in this makeshift cradle? It was low; all could partake of the Holy fodder within, from the lowest of the low, to the giant giraffe bending his proud neck. All were satisfied.
His promise was and is, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger.” And I haven’t, all these many years. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE LORDSHIP OF THE CHRIST-CHILD

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him." 

Not her, but "HIM." He was the center of attention then, as He should be now. Just as He was in eternity past, and will remain in eternity future.They did not make the Christ-child Lord of their lives, no more than we can make the Man, Christ Jesus, Lord of ours. It is an established fact, whether we accept it or not. Acknowledging it personally makes it beneficial to the individual; but universally, He is still KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS, whether accepted or not. 

Not only did His creatures bow to their Sovereign Royalty wrapped in swaddling clothes, but His creation recognized it. "And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was." This star is called, "His star." And rightly so, for He was its Creator, thereby making Him its Lord. "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth...all things were created by Him, and for Him." Genesis tells us of one of the heavenly things He created: "He made the stars also." Thus, "His star," by right of creation!

Man too, belongs to Him by the same right. We are told, "God created man." Does it not sound strange to you that all creation recognizes and obeys their Maker and Lord, except man? "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." To most professing Christians, He is Lord in name only. Jesus told the people of His day that true Lordship in one's life is seen in obeying His Word. Listen to His plain and pointed words, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?"

Heaven's testimony of those who have truly made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives is, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Right Thing/The Wrong Way

I’m sure all my readers are familiar with the old saying, “It’s better to do the right thing in the wrong way than to do the wrong thing in the right way.” That is, it would be better to preach on Hell with a bad spirit than having a good one and not preach it at all. We are not to let the weakness of our humanity keep us from performing right. If we do, we’ll never achieve anything worthwhile. Paul said it was an accepted fact in his life that when he did good, evil was present with him.

David experienced this also. Because of the weakness of the flesh, he decided he would refrain from doing anything, therefore accomplishing nothing. By going to the extreme and carrying things too far he wound up having to admit he had kept himself “even from good.” But at such times we, like David, find sorrow is stirred within us, and our hearts burn. It is then, as he, we come out of our self-imposed prison to do right, even if it’s at the expense of our own embarrassment.

All of us want to do the right thing in the right way, but if we can’t accomplish the latter because of our frailties, let us always perform the former, even at the cost of being humiliated.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Paralyzing Effect of Worry

Years ago we took a young preacher into our home for a brief time to help him out. Quite often he’d sing the little chorus, “Why worry when you can pray.” But then, with a quaint smile, he’d change the words to, “Why pray when you can worry.” Using Ezra’s words, “I am ashamed and blush” to admit I have practiced the latter of these two renditions, more than the first.

When we worry, we become the victim, and paralyzed with fear. The root word for worry is to choke or strangle. Jesus said when we are full of care that we “choke the Word” within us; and it “becomes unfruitful.” Worry can neither prevent nor solve our problems. It’s futile, it drains us of our entire Spiritual and emotional energy. Most worry is beyond our control, and it’s very frustrating trying to control the uncontrollable.

Worry is a sin! It is diametrically opposite of trusting God. It is magnifying the problem in your life over the person of Jesus Christ. It’s misplaced focus, instead of looking to Jesus, we look at the waves. It is focusing on what you don’t want to happen, but believe will. Whenever we worry, the attention is centered on us, in spite of God continually exhorting us, “Look unto me." Someone said ego means, “Edging God out.” And this is exactly what worry will do every time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Mistake the Two

"Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with meBut I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." There is a special trust in God that has to do with specific things, times, situations, etc. Then there is an general overall trust, which involves our day to day living. Some people confuse the two, and as a result create a crisis out of every event that arises.

Does this sound inconsistent? "I trust in the Lord, but I'll have to wait and see how things will go with me." It isn't if you are referring to the latter type of faith I mentioned above. Yes, if the former. In this second type of faith there is no "claiming" a promise, but calmly awaiting an outcome. He did not know whether Nero would condemn or acquit him. He did not possess a particular faith for deliverance, but one of submission.

Sometimes we have to trust the Lord and just wait and see; this is not unscriptural or unspiritual! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

All In Good Time

"To every thing there is a...time to every purpose under the heaven." I remember my dear Granny saying,  "All in good time." This is what the wise man is teaching in Ecclesiastes chapter three. He tells us, from birth to death and all in between, there is a time element involved in the things of life. As I have often mentioned, one of the most important, if not the most important, words in the Christian faith is, "wait." God's promise to all who do so is, "None that wait on thee [shall] be ashamed." 

No one ever had reason to blush who waited on their God. He always comes through, though admittedly, most of the time, it's at the nail-biting last minute. There were no red faces on the likes of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Zacharias, as well as scores of others who waited long for God to fulfill His promise to them. And I can assure any and all who may be reading this article, who have been patiently waiting for their Lord to keep His Word to them, He will never cause you any embarrassment!

"[At] an appointed time...though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't Give It a Second Thought

I’m speaking to Spirit-filled believers, and, I promise, I will not be offended if you disagree (Psl.119:165). I am going to by-pass Mr. Webster and give you my personal and practical definition of two words. They are: impulse and instinct. As to the first, I believe all will agree that it means “to act without thought,” but I’m not sure the second definition will get a unanimous approval. Nevertheless, here goes: Instinct: to act upon your first thought. The first has to do with no thought, the latter, with your first thought.

This is something that has always worked for me through the years. In fact, when I have gone contrary to it, I found myself in some real messes. I've passed this principle on to my wife and children, and I believe their testimony would be that of my own. I remind you again, we are not speaking of fleshy impulse, but rather Spirit-filled instinct.

In almost every situation, if I go by my first thought (impression), I come out O.K. My second thought generally leans toward my human ingenuity and understanding. It always has to make sense. There is never any mystery connected to a second thought (Isa.55:8-9). The first thought, I find, is Heavenly; the second is always earthly.

There is no second guessing with the Holy Spirit; He’s always right the first time.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How We See Ourselves

“…we saw giants…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” It is not so important how others see us as it is how we see ourselves. Because of the image they had created in their minds of themselves, they mistakenly thought others saw them the same way. Interestingly, the giants had never even seen them at all

There is a two-fold danger in every Christian’s life. The first is thinking more highly of yourself than you ought. The second is to think less of yourself than you should. The former makes one overconfident. The latter leaves us underachievers.

Some years ago, a young man who meant a lot to me committed suicide by literally drinking himself to death. He left a note. On it was written these words: “I ain’t never been nothin’ and I ain’t ever gonna be nothin.’” That’s what he thought; it’s not what God thought!

Nothings become “somethings” in the hands of God

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Undoing God's Done

How many of us there are who attempt to undo what God's done. True, what God joins together no man can put asunder; but just as true is the fact, what God puts asunder no man can put together. It is futile and frustrating, to say the least, to try. As the children's story says, "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again." And neither can we!

Tradition tells us, when the Lord rent the veil of Temple in twain from top to bottom, thus making the way open to approach a holy God, the priests sewed it back up. For them to have endeavored to undo what God had done was to keep the greatest of blessings from them. We will never come to truly know God by undoing the things He has done in our lives. No matter how large the rend!

It is well to remember, whenever God seems to be "ripping" things apart before our very eyes, He is actually making a new and living way for us to approach Him that we had not experienced previously. 

God does not strip us so that we can graft back in the dead and rotting He took from us.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

My New Book

My Dear Friends,

Thank God, our new book of yearly devotions, Breakfast With the King, is ready. Or should I say, as ready as two of God's feeble servants can make it. We are limited in so many areas in the production of a book. But like our Lord's testimony of Mary, "She hath done what she could," We gave it our best, in spite of our many shortcomings. And that seems to always be sufficient as well as acceptable with our dear Lord. As my dear mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins used to say, "God can hit an awful hard lick with a crooked stick, if the stick belongs to Him."

There are three things I would like to say about this labor of love.

1. We use the self-publishing vehicle, LULU, because it prints the books individually, when ordered, allowing us to buy a few at a time. Also, you're able to order them directly from LULU, saving us the hassle and expense of postage. With our modest income, it makes this endeavor possible of us. The predetermined price for the new book is $12. Our small one, Spilt Milk, is now $6.

2. As I said, the book is by no means flawless, so you can expect to find an occasional misspelling, punctuation error, miss spaced line, etc. You may encounter a repeat or two of an illustration or truth. Remember, there are 365, and we're senior citizens! Besides, there are some repeats in the Bible, too, if you recall. :)

3. Either book can be ordered now for Christmas gift giving. However, you folks who are part of our Faithful Few supporters will be receiving a personal, signed copy in the next few weeks. Here are the links where they can be purchased.



Love in the Lamb,

rds

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Doctors/Meds/and Divine Healing

Most agree the order in which Paul wrote his epistles are as follows: 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 1st Timothy, Titus, and 2nd Timothy. To the astute student it is clear there is a progressive revelation in these thirteen letters. For example, in his earlier writing he looks for the immediate (at hand) return of our Lord, but toward the end of his life and ministry he stresses His imminent (expectant) coming.   

This principle holds true as to healing also. At the outset of his ministry, Paul saw, and was an instrument, in many being miraculously healed. But toward his later years, there is a noticeable absence of such healings. In his last letters (prison epistles), we read of some of the Apostle's closest friends and companions being sick, but strangely, he would not heal them. For example, Epaphroditus, for of the work of Christ, was nigh unto death; Trophimus was left sick by Paul at Miletum; and his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, had constant stomach problems. Paul didn't use his gift of healing on any of them.

In the first case, God showed mercy upon the sick one by raising him up; in the second, we are not told the outcome, simply that a precious brother was left behind sick; and in the third situation, the young man was advised to regularly take "a little wine", for his oft infirmities. Interestingly, Paul's constant companion in his travels was a medical doctor, Doctor Luke. Healing in the early days of Christianity was not just a compassionate thing, but a confirmation. That is, attesting to one's apostolic authority. As the authoritative Word was completed, the apostolic authoritative signs and wonders ceased.

God still heals miraculously, if He so chooses; but generally, in our day, He uses means. The rule seems to be: in the Old Testament and coming into the New, God healed directly, using means sparsely; but toward the close and completion of the New Testament, the reverse is true. Today there is no cut-and-dried way as to healing in a saint's life. God has a sovereign plan for each life, and deals with us accordingly. It is well to remember that those who are healed miraculously or by use of means, still ultimately die. Remember Hezekiah! God healed him, but only for a fifteen year period. Then he died.
  
If we were as concerned with the healing of our souls as we are our bodies, what spiritually robust Christians we'd have. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sins Seriousness

“There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” I've heard preacher’s say we do not know what this sin is. If that be the case, then we cannot know how to keep ourselves from it. Nor can we know who and who not to pray for. Because of the seriousness of the text, I refuse to believe that God would keep us in the dark concerning it.

I believe that John is not necessarily speaking of one specific sin, but rather a kind of sin. If we use the Old Testament as our commentary on this Scripture, we find the type of sin John is speaking of is a sin of presumption. Trace this word and its equivalent throughout the Old Canon and you’ll find, more often than not, death is associated with it. If I’m correct (and I believe I am), there was no Old Testament sacrifice for the sin of presumption. Is it any wonder then that David prayed, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins”?

The following is list of some who committed this sin: Achan, Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, Nadab and Abihu, and some of the Corinthian believers. And what does God say to such people?
“Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God...” It should be noted in each of these cases this presumptuous sin was not committed out of weakness, but wickedness.

Let me say, there should be no guilt complex on the part of Godly believers when God removes the burden of prayer for relatives and friends. Samuel, Jeremiah, and Joshua were told by God to cease their praying. Even Moses, who committed the sin of presumption, when praying about it, was told by God, “[S]peak no more unto me of this matter.” And Jeremiah was commanded of the Lord, “Pray not for this people for their good.”

God still considers sin serious...even if this generation of Christians does not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Try Thanksgiving

If you were to ask me one the secrets of God’s perennial blessings upon the lives of David and Paul, my answer would be a simple, “Thankfulness.” It would be among my top three reasons. They lived hundreds of years apart, had completely different temperaments as well as ministries, but O how appreciative to God they both were. Who could read the book of Psalms or Paul’s epistles, and not be aware of this? You can be sure both came before the Lord’s presence with thanksgiving.

I think David said it best, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good.”  It is recorded of Israel, after God had blessed them abundantly, “They soon forgat…” I’m afraid many of us are like God’s people of old, we have short memories.

No matter what your situation may be, as my dear old mother used to say, “There is always something to be thankful for.” I encourage you to list the many things you can be thankful for. They will dwarf whatever circumstance you may be experiencing at the present. 

I read of a missionary who was despondent and ready to leave the field, but before doing so he visited an old veteran “warrior” in the faith. As he entered the older missionary’s hut, on the wall he noticed a plaque which read, “Try thanksgiving.” He did, and stayed on the field thirty more years.

Friday, November 21, 2014

REVIVAL

Revival, I believe, touches three spheres of life: 1) National, like in Psa. 85:6, "Revive US"; 2) Institutional, as in Hab.3:2, "Revive thy WORK"; and 3) Individual, found in Psa. 138:7, "Revive ME." Many are praying for the first two, but if they're to come at all, it will only be when the third is true in our lives. It is the one live coal that sparks the other two. The gospel song could be applied to our need of personal revival, "It's not my brother, nor my sister, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of...[revival]"

The word revival, as found in scripture, has to do with a coming alive. When Jacob heard Joseph was yet alive, we are told "the spirit of Jacob...revived." Revival then, in the true meaning of the word, as someone else has said, is a "rediscovery of Jesus Christ." How many a sad saint's spirit has come alive, as the two disciples on the Emmaus Road, when reminded, "HE'S ALIVE." 

The resurrection of Christ is the foundation stone of Christianity! 
When Jesus ceases to be a living reality in a Christian's mind and heart, then all surety flees away, leaving him or her like the worldling, with a sandcastle life! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Never Say Never-To Jesus

"Thou shalt never wash my feet." Someone said, "You can get so sweet, you're sticky." I say, "You can get so spiritual, you're sickening." Refusing to allow our blessed Lord to minister to us is the height of pseudo-humility; it's sickening to see. Telling Jesus what He can and cannot do in our lives is to deny His Lordship. On another occasion, Peter, like many of us, said, "Not so, Lord." It always is lawful for our Lord to do with His own as He pleases.

In reference to Christ, there are two types of ministering: We ministering to Him (Acts 13:2), and He ministering to us, as seen in our text. But, the latter is to be first in order. This is seen in the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. Jesus first ministered to her in her sickness, then after being raised up, she ministered to Him. Only after He ministers to us are we fit to minister to Him and others.

Jesus is the "Eternal Servant (1Cor.15:28). He told His disciples He came to minister. He enjoyed ministering to them and us. As I have grown older and feebler, along with my sickness, I find myself quite often saying, "Lord you're going to have to come and minister to me today; I don't believe I can make it." And I almost immediately hear a knock at the door, the Great Physician standing there, making one of His many house calls.

Monday, November 17, 2014

WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE

"For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." What higher compliment can be given a godly man or woman than that these words be spoken of them in a eulogy or inscribed upon their headstone? Fifteen brief words that sum up the entirety of one's existence while upon this earth. Their life in a nutshell, so to speak. When all is said and done, this will more than suffice.

Notice the first part of our text has to do with humanity, "he was a good man"; the latter with Deity, "full of the Holy Ghost." The former is man-ward, the latter is God-ward. It is possible to be the first without possessing the second. But you can't have the latter without displaying the former. It is said of our Lord, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."   

Several things can be said of those who are blessed with Barnabas's noble spirit. First, they're the underdog's best friend. Secondly, they promote others at their own expense, even if it means living in the shadow of the one they advance. Thirdly, when there are needs among God's people, they're the first to give sacrificially. Fourthly, these stalwart  characters are always encouraging others to, "cleave to the Lord". And lastly, everyone whose lives they have touched give testimony to the fact they're sons (and daughters) of consolation.

Yes, these gallant souls have their shortcomings; but when you look at a life, like a spot on a piece of white paper, you don't look at the spot but all the clean around it!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

No Ones Perfect

"I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad." Anyone in the least familiar with the temperaments would place David under the melancholy category. And by doing so would automatically place him in the perfectionist group of individuals. As you can see from our text, God's "darling" had come to the place to see the end result of all perfection, and concluded the Lord gives us a lot of elbow room, so to speak, in His demands. Deity never forgets our humanity.

Perfectionists can be a very unhappy people, as well as make those around them miserable, if they do not possess the strength of character to face and admit to the fact, "No one is perfect." True, some confess to it but not in sincerity, for you can see the pride peeking through their self-righteous garments. On the other hand the imperfect who constantly give testimony to the fact of their shortcomings, often flaunt the fact to excuse their apathetic lives. Human frailty is no excuse for sin.

Those who feel they're a notch above others in their impeccableness are in great danger of not feeling the need of betterment. Being satisfied with the status quo. And on the other hand, those who care little for keeping all their ducks in a row should at lest make a worthy attempt of lining them up. Accepting one another, whether it be a perfectionist or one to the contrary, would go a long way in solving problems. There is no disgrace in being human, nor should there be in attempting to produce to perfection.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God's Dependable

“Nevertheless…will I not…suffer my faithfulness to fail.” Psalm 89 is all about the faithfulness of God (see vv.1,2,5,8,24,33,37). You can depend on God. He’s always there when you need Him. You can be guaranteed that He’ll show up whenever and wherever there’s a need.

David failed God, but God would not fail David. All the times we are unfaithful to Him, “…he abideth faithful” to us. His faithfulness to us will never fail. In spite of our infidelity with the world, as with Hosea’s unfaithful wife, God says to us, “I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness.”

God pledged His faithfulness to us at the alter of our souls when we made our vows in the day of our salvation. He cannot, and will not, fail to keep His covenant. His faithfulness depends on His truthfulness; and, “God cannot lie." Jeremiah knew this; and in spite of his viewing the utter destruction of Jerusalem, he reaffirmed, "Great is thy faithfulness," He did not judge God by what he saw or how he felt. Nor should we!

Friday, November 7, 2014

You Can Live It Down

There is such a thing, in many lives, as a change for the better. Those who cling to the status quo, who do not accept it in others are generally the ones who resist change in their own. They do not want to put forth the effort it takes to bring about the best in themselves. Plus, it can be humbling, to say the least, to admit one's former life needed improved upon. The very worse thing that can be said of you is, "Ah, the same old________, you'll never change." 

Therefore, it is important to give those around us elbow room to grow. The best way of doing this, I find, is to not constantly be reminding them of what they were. The past doesn't necessarily determine who a person is in the present. We need to also keep this in mind for loved ones and friends we have not been around for awhile, those who geography and time have separated us from. 

The circumstances of life has brought wonderful transformation in many a person. The better principled an individual, the easier the adjusting from bad to good, or from good to better. The mature person realizes when once the old seed ceases to be sown, the new will ultimately takes its place, though there will be one last season of reaping the old harvest during the transition time. But they are encouraged at seeing the new sprouts peeking through the soil. 

If God can make a beautiful butterfly out of a worm, and do the same for a worm like Jacob, most certainly, He can and will do it for the likes of us! (rds)


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Promised Performance

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform...Now it was not written for his sake alone...But for us also..." 

Our father Abraham "considered not" both his and Sarah's impotent condition when told his God was going to do impossible things in the lives of these two old-timers. He rested soulfully and wholly on the fact that whatever his Friend promised, He was more than able to perform.

And so it was and is with all God's prayer warriors. Moses said, "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?" And Jeremiah pens, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised." The aged, retired priest, Zacharias, still in the service of the Lord, told all his neighbors that God would "perform the mercy promised to our fathers."

As one old divine puts it, "God is a gentleman, He is as good as His Word." O, my beloved, if your Sovereign God said it, then, as the saying goes, "You can take it to the bank!" 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reason or Results

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” It was neither of the two reasons these “toy” theologians thought. Jesus tells them it was not parental or personal, but by the providential arrangement of God that he was the way he was. All suffering is not necessarily the effect of sin. In many cases (as in this blind man’s), it is for the glory of God.

We can debate, discuss, and speculate “…why am I thus,” but, at the end of the day, it is not the original cause, but the final cure, that counts. What does it matter why, if the grand finale is our good and God’s glory? It is not why and what I was, but who and what I am, that matters.

Leave the question of past reasons with God. Rejoice in His present results in your life.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

When Means Don't Matter

"Hezekiah...brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it." When means to an end become an end in themselves, they no longer are important, even God ordained ones. The brazen serpent God instructed Moses to make as a means of conveyance in the healing to His people had become an end in and of itself. It had become an object of superstitious worship.

It is easy to fall into the trap of idolizing the thing or person God uses in our lives to bring us healing; physical or spiritual. It is so tempting to put the means, things God uses to bring blessings to our lives, on a self-constructed altar of worship. Something used in grace can become a disgrace. And when this happens, it or they, lose God's touch upon them; they become impotent.

Matthew Henry says, "Good things , when idolized, are better parted with than kept." 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Wayward Children

Is it not a great comfort and encouragement knowing our heavenly Father can relate to our grief and pain in having wayward children? His first son, Adam (Lk. 3:38 b), who had everything a child could desire, went astray. Later on, His other children (Israel), though brought up and nourished by this loving, and literally perfect Father, rebelled against Him. It is so sad that those from whom He should find the most comfort, He found the most grief. And isn't this the testimony of many a godly parent? Is not our cry that of Job of old, "Oh that I were as in months past...when my children were about me"?

He understands what it is like to have a child who once "panted after God" (Psa. 42:1), who now "pants after the dust of the earth" (Amos 2:7). One who prefers a filthy hog sty over his or her father's house, comfortable and clean. How longsuffering He was to many of us, the parents of prodigals, when we also traveled the road our children are now on. And those mothers and fathers who did not journey into "the far country," could have and would have, but for the grace of God. 

The best advice I could give a godly parent with a godless child, is to pray and be patient. Remembering Naomi's wise council to Ruth, "Sit still... until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing..." As in the book of Esther, although God is not mentioned, He works behind the scenes. And so He does in the life of our children. His promise still holds true, "And he shall turn the heart...of the children to their fathers." Or as one old divine put it, "We can lay the wood together, but God must make it burn."

"When thy child is going full sail to the devil, God can blow with a contrary wind of His Spirit, and alter his or her course."
(Puritan Saying)  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Obscure Life

To many Christians, an obscure life means an obsolete life. We all are prone to think public figures are the only ones greatly used of God. This is because what they do can be seen by all. When will we ever wake up to the truth God generally does His best work behind closed doors? When we pray, it is to be behind closed doors. The widow was told to "shut the door upon thee and thy sons," when the miracle of the oil was multiplied. Elisha also, when raising the young child, we are told, "...went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD."

The following are some quotes by Oswald Chambers: "The curse in Christian work is that we want to preserve ourselves in God's museum"; "God buries His men (and women) in the midst of paltry things, no monuments are erected to them"; "It takes Almighty God Incarnate in you to peel potatoes properly, and to wash heathen children for the glory of God"; "Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity"; "Remain true to God in your obscurity, and remember you are not the designer of your destiny"; " It takes Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator."

The most important part of our life is that part that only God can see."

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Freshly Slain Lamb

After the resurrection, in His new glorified body, our Lord still carried the fresh wounds of Calvary. If there be any doubt of this just ask "doubting" Thomas. At His Second Coming back to earth, He will be asked, "What are these wounds in thy hands?" to which He answers, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." And today, at the Father's right hand, He unashamedly bears them. When John saw Him, in His present ministry as our intercessor, he gives us this description, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne...stood a Lamb as it had been slain." For over two-thousand years this "freshly slain" LAMB has been pleading on our behalf to His and our Father, to His and our God! 

Under the Old Testament economy, a freshly slain lamb, picturing the Lamb of God that would come someday, was offered up in both the morning and evening sacrifice. This continued for some fifteen-hundred years, until that eventful day, when the earthshaking cry was heard throughout eternity, "It is finished." This is what the writer of Hebrews referred to when he penned, "...when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." And again,"...this He did once, when He offered up Himself," And again, "...we are sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once for all." And once more, "But this Man, after He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

Is it any wonder then that this HIM BOOK (Hebrews) of the Bible gives us a divine invitation to, "Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain  mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." And wherein can we be so brazen as to approach a Holy God? The writer continues,
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new (fresh) and living way." Both now and throughout eternity, whenever we come to Him we will find a freshly slain Lamb. The song writer had it right when he wrote, "Before the Throne my surety stands, my name is written on His hands."

The High priest of the Old Testament did not inspect the one who offered up the Lamb, but the lamb itself, to see if it was"without spot and blemish."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Paul, Faith, and Mountains

"Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains..." It is plain Paul believed and took literally Jesus's statement in the Gospels concerning faith removing mountains. Just as clear is the fact that he did not believe he possessed such a faith. But studying his long and eventful life we see he used what faith he had.

And that faith got him through a lifetime of severe suffering; brought in needed supplies for both him and his; sustained him during lonely hours; comforted him when grief stricken at his friends' misunderstanding of him; kept him going when seemingly there was no human reason to keep going; and was sufficient at his end to get him through the valley of the shadows. Is not this kind of faith greater than moving a mountain?

Although I've used it at different times in my writings, I can't resist inserting one of my favorite quotes. I think it appropriate, it goes to the core of what I've been trying to say. It is by C.S. Lewis, "For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Distinctively Different

"And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification."

Our God is distinctively different from all the gods of the world. And He has made His people to be so from the world's children. "The LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." While the worldlings are busying themselves attempting to be "same-alikes" (my daughter Charity's term, when small), God's children are to be distinctively different. 

It is a sad day when Christian's emulate the world trying to be just like one another, forfeiting their God given special characteristics, in order to be to like the run-of the-mill. Those little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are, are what people use to identify us as separate from all others. In this "cookie-cutter age" it is hard to find those who "dare to be different."  

What saint does not recognize the voice of a Billy Graham or a George Beverly Shea? Yet today, for the most part, the pulpit ministry is without distinction, without signification. The same can be said of writers who had their own styles, as C.S. Lewis and A.W. Tozer. And even in the pews we find a horde of copycats, each not wanting to be themselves, but another.

Years ago, on a late night TV program I heard an impersonator do John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, and many more. The host asked the imitator to do some contemporary actors. He replied he couldn't, saying "Today's actors are all alike, there is nothing distinct about them." May each of us be readily picked out of a line-up.