Friday, February 28, 2014

A Change of Masters

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof...For sin shall not have dominion over you.”

Some years ago, I heard a nationally known evangelical radio teacher expounding our texts, found in Romans chapter six. To my shock and utter dismay, he said a Christian could live without sinning, that he had gone all the previous day without committing one sin. He attempted to use the above scriptures as proof-texts. But  a text taken out of context is a pretext!

No Believer can live without sin, although he or she may live above sin. As an assistant pastor said to me once, “We no longer have to live in the saloon, we can now live in an apartment above it.” The words “reign” and “dominion,” as found in Romans six, as well as in other places, have to do with power, not presence; authority, not absence.

When Joseph’s brethren said, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? they were speaking of him having control over their lives. Like a king having reign and dominion over his subjects. We are now free from sin's power over us, but not its presence in us. Both Joseph and his brethren remained, whoever had the control.

Sin’s presence is always with us (Rom.7), like Siamese twins, we are joined together, and only death does us part. God has left you and me with the means to feed the new nature. We also have the means at our disposal to feed the old. But once we give in to the “old man’s” deceitful pleadings and nourish him, he will always get the upper hand. 

Emancipated servants should follow the one who gave His life for their freedom, and not return to the tyrannical, slave driver they once served!  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hannah's Prayer of Praise

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD...He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.”

Answered prayer is always cause to rejoice in the Lord. In chapter one of 1 Samuel we are told of Hannah, “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.” But now, after the birth of Samuel, a prayer of praise.

But within this magnificent prayer there is a word of warning against spiritual pride and arrogancy, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth.” She reminds all of us, who are so prone to forget who we were and where God brought us from, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes.”

I agree with the old radio preacher, M.R. De Haan, when he said this is one of the great illustrations of grace found in scriptures. To take us from sitting on a dunghill to seat us far above in heavenly places with Christ, is nothing short of God’s marvelous grace. From the lowest to the highest, from rags to riches. He took away the filthy stench of the dunghill and replaced it with the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon.

Let us always be mindful, whether saved as a innocent child or a reprobate adult, we were all taken from the same dunghill. We were all barnyard creatures! And that “the best robe” our Father clothed us with, He provided.

It is so difficult to understand how we as God’s children, clothed in His righteousness, nurtured and brought up by Him, could ever go to the streets again, and to the dunghill we came from. “They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.”

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.”  

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Although in David's Life

“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant…for this is all my salvation, and all my desire”

David was God’s darling. He was a king, a prophet, and a warrior; he had great riches and honor. Yet, there was an “although” in his life. And I think most, if not all us believers, if truthful, would have to admit, along with David, that there is an “although” in our lives also, as pertaining to their our own houses.

I personally think David is making reference to his children,who had caused him so much heartache, when he speaks of “my house.” The situation with Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom, were enough to crush the life out of the strongest parent. As one Puritan preacher has said, “Grace doesn't run in the blood.” Godly men had bad children, and vise versa.       

He could have left out the part about his house, but he was honest with himself and God till the very end. These were his “last words,” meaning: speaking by inspiration, or, literally last, being on his death bed and nearing heaven. Possibly both are true. The two things closest his heart in the end were his family and his soul.

As to his physical house there was sadness, but there was a solace of soul spiritually. He was standing on God’s Sure Covenant to him, as he lay upon his death bed. His great God had condescended to to bind Himself to the performance of His promise to this, His child.

Yes, my friend, many of us, sad to say, in our closing years, as in David’s, may have to say honestly, “My house is not what it should be with God.” But we can also say with David, “yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Before God made promise to David, He foresaw  all his sins and shortcomings. Just as He saw yours and mine when He promised us everlasting life through Jesus Christ His Son! This, says David, “is all my salvation, and all my desire.” And it should be ours too. HALLELUJAH!!!     

Friday, February 21, 2014

Awed At God's Awesomeness

“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

I agree with A.W. Tozer. He detested trendy words, words that are in vogue, words of the world. But when they flippantly use words from the Word, that is when my blood begins to boil. Words loosely thrown around, not even knowing their meaning. One such word is found in the above text. It is popular with the younger generation. Who has not had their fill of: “That’s awesome,” “You're awesome,” or just plain, “Awesome man!"

We have lost the “awe” in the awesomeness of the Almighty. Even among professing Christians, I find the “awe” is absent in their worship. David tells us when there is an “Awe” of Him, there will be less sin by us (Psa.4:4). When a man or woman is awakened to the awesomeness of God they will say with godly Joseph of old, “ How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

We're told, when God spoke out of the bush to Moses, “Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” This was the man who gave us the Law! And mighty Elijah, when in God’s presence, “wrapped his face in his mantle.” In Revelation, John, who was the most intimate with Jesus while on earth, when he was in the presence of the risen Christ was overwhelmed with awe, falling on his face before Him.

The reason many saints are no longer awestruck with God is because of their conception of Him. Their God is too small! They think He is altogether such a one as themselves. He is a God of their own making, an image of heart, created from their own imagination. This all happened when they left their “quiet time,” and ceased to read, meditate, and think upon Him. And like the lost axe-head, you’ll find Him where you lost Him!   

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making the Comforter Comfortable

In the Gospels, Jesus plainly reveals He considered His body the Temple of God. And in the Epistles, Paul unveils the fact that this truth applies to we Believers also. I know the blessed Comforter was comfortable in Jesus’ body; the question is, is He comfortable in ours? Do we make every effort to provide Him with nice living quarters?

I am not going to give a list of do’s and don’ts. For sure, I’d leave a hole for many to worm out of. I’ll let the Holy Spirit tell each what should be done in his or her individual life to make Him feel more at home. As the missionary C.T. Studd said, “Who buys a watchdog and does his barking for him?”

We read of one who, in the Old Testament, desecrated God’s Temple. God laid Belshazzar in His balances and found him wanting. That very night his life was taken. And of those believers at Corinth who defiled the Temple of the Holy Ghost, we are told, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

The Temple of old was made by hands, ours, “without hands.”
Nevertheless, we are to keep up our physical temple as Israel was to repair and tend to their material Temple. There will be a dear and high cost to be paid by those of us who refuse and neglect to pay the price of the upkeep of their bodies.

When we are told in scripture, “bodily exercise profiteth little,” that is in contrast to “godliness,” not health! There is a great deal of profit in taking care of your temple. Even those who, in God’s will, “suffer infirmities,” function better for His service by repairing in their temple the things that can humanly be fixed!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Old-Fashioned Home

Many a oldtime non-Christian home of my day excelled most that pass themselves off as a Christian home today. God established the home before the Church or Government. Therefore, as goes the home, so goes the Church and Government. A great number of homes of my childhood may not have been truly Christian, but they possessed Christian principles. And they passed these values and traditions to their next generation. No culture can long survive without these guidelines.  

Our society will soon wither and die without Judeo-Christian teaching. God will bless any and all who come under this scriptural umbrella (1Cor. 7:14). Judges tells of Israel’s decline as a nation, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel...every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Our social and cultural problems stem from a decline in the home.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finding the Right Church

Looking for the right church is like looking for the right  wife. There are plenty out there, but only one you can live with. And even that will not be a perfect union. The first thing you learn, if it is to be a good and lasting marriage, is there will be a lot of give and take. And many times, more of  one than the other. Churches, like a wife, are not perfect.

The only church Jesus ever pastored had a member who could cuss a blue streak, (Peter); and another was a real pessimist, (Philip); there were two hot-headed brothers, (James and John); also, there was the classic doubter, (Thomas). And yes, a turncoat, (Judas).

Many today, because of churches’ shortcomings, have gone to a home church, in hopes of finding what they want. But if you ask the minister or his little flock, they will attest to the above fact, that they too come up short. As someone has said, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it. Let them stay that way.”

Each, according to their own conscience and the light they have, must decide as to the flock they will fellowship with. Most certainly, those with children cannot give on many things that those without, are able to. It’s an important and individual decision, not to be criticized by the other! The assembly Jesus customarily attended left much to be desired, but He could handle it. Not all could then, or can they now.

There are checks and balances, the translation used, the standards held, the type of songs sung, can, for many, be borne, if there is a genuine scriptural spirit of love. It is possible to find the many things you're seeking for in a church, but if this one thing (love) is missing, you will end up miserable, and dreading to attend what Jesus loved and died for!

Warren Wiersbe has said, “I find God blesses those with whom I disagree.” And so have I, my friend. There are some wonderful loving, caring people out there that may not have the light I do, but who have, and excel me, in the type of love Jesus spoke of. If you were to ask me why I drive an hour (one-way) to church each Sunday, my reply would be that of the little urchin, when asked by a near-by pastor why he walked across town to go to D.L. Moody’s church? His reply was, “Oh, mister, they really love a fella over there!”

(Generally attributed to Augustine)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

God's Natural Laws

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

God’s natural laws pertain both to the Christian and non-Christian. For example, the law of gravity, whatever goes up, must come down. Likewise, the same truth holds with the law of the harvest. What we sow is what we reap. Right or wrong always produces, in the end, after its own kind. If you plant corn don’t expect a crop of tomatoes.

Wicked Adonibezek cut off seventy king’s thumbs and great toes; when captured by Israel they did likewise to him, his testimony being, “as I have done, so God hath requited me.” On the other hand, we are told of godly Isaac, “Then Isaac sowed…and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.”

Let me here give a word of enlightenment that is not generally covered when discussing this subject. It can be taken as a warning by some and an encouragement to others. It is of utmost importance to realize in the process of sowing and reaping, there is a time element involved. The interval may vary between the two, but there is always a period of waiting.

For example, many have become discouraged and quit after making things right with God, because they see no immediate good fruit, only what they previously had sown. That is to be expected. This is what the law of the harvest is all about. But the old will eventually give way to the new if one will cease to sow their wild oats and continue to plant the good seed. The reverse is true of those who have stopped sowing good in their lives and began seeding the bad.

And to you who are continually “going about doing good,” the harvest is only going to get bigger and better!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Insecure Giant

“And when he [Saul] stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.”

Theories differ on the height of Saul. Some say he was seven feet tall, others, eight feet, still others believe him to have been closer to nine. One thing for sure, among the children of Israel, he was a giant of a male specimen . Certainly his stature qualified him to do battle with Goliath, had he the inward character and intestinal fortitude.

In reality, Saul was a small man in a giant’s body; David, a giant of a man in a lad’s body. Position and physique don’t make the man. In both the religious and political realm, down through history, many have chosen to blindly follow men who, from all outward appearances, seemed like giants. Yet, they woke up to the fact their leader was in fact a pigmy of a soul in a man’s body.

One of the main differences between Saul and David was that, the latter was comfortable in in own skin, while the former had no peace with who he was. The man or woman who is at home with themselves can take on any and all giants. But the insecure, he or she, like the ostrich, hide their head in the sand, thinking the giants of life will just naturally go away.

When you fight a giant, first make sure you know the person fighting him! (r.d.s.)    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tooting Our Own Horn

Someone has said, in jest I’m sure, “He that tooteth not his own horn, it shall not be tooted.” We smile, but to hear many of us testify, preach, and pray, you’d think we believed this comedic statement to be gospel, in spite of the fact the Book of wisdom plainly tells us,Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”

I used to have a sermon entitled, “The Big I.” In it, I showed how in Lucifer’s fall, he uses the personal pronoun “I” five times (Isa. 14:13-14). And the proud Pharisee in the Temple followed his father’s example, using it the same amount of times (Lk. 18:11-12). But when we come to a godly saint, Paul takes the same number of “I’s” and crucifies them (Gal. 2:20).

Bending your stubborn “I” into a submissive “C” will be more than worth the time, pain, and effort you put into it!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Depth of Soul

“Because they had no deepness of earth...because they had no root...yet hath he no root in himself...because it had no depth of earth...because it had no root…[they] have no root in themselves...because it lacked moisture.”

The above quotes are taken from three of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. They’re a part of our Lord’s teaching on the Seed and the Sower. He shows the great danger of being a “surface saint.” Superficial souls are the devil’s delight. Jesus tells us they are an easy prey for Satan.

When interpreting the parable, Jesus makes plain the fault is not with the seed (the Word), but rather with the soil (the heart). Like many today, they were more concerned with outward image than depth of soul. Show, to this type, is more important than substance.

The reason we do not see the “fruit of the Spirit” in more lives of Christians today is told us in the Old Testament, “Take root downward, and bear fruit upward.” We are to “dwell deep,” if we are to have any sinew of soul. We need to intellectually get out of the baby pool and get into intellectual “waters to swim in.”

Words are formed from thought, therefore, what we talk about is the measuring rod of our depth of soul!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Turning the Tables

The little idiom , “Turning the tables,” simply means to reverse a situation and gain the upper hand. When the tables are turned, the situation has changed, giving the advantage to the party who had previously been at a disadvantage. God is an expert when it comes to this. For example, we're told in scripture, “God turned the curse into a blessing.”
If one is going to make it successfully through this life, he or she must learn to make stumbling stones, stepping stones. A good illustration of this can be seen in the life of man named Tom Dempsey. He was a place kicker in the NFL. He played for several teams during his career. He is known best for kicking a 63-yard field goal as time expired, to give the New Orleans Saints a win over the Detroit Lions. Tom was born with no fingers on his right hand and no toes on his right foot. He wore a special shoe with a flatted toe surface. Most certainly, he used his disadvantage, to his advantage. It could be said of him, “He turned the tables.”
There is a Bible character I have always admired who did this very thing. We are told he wanted to see Jesus who was passing by his vicinity, but couldn't because of the crowds. He was little of stature and couldn't see over the heads of the multitude. And so, rather than giving in to his handicap, he used it to his favor, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree, the result being, he had the best view in the house!
The true test of a man or woman is seen in what it takes to stop them.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Personal God

“Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” It couldn't be any plainer. Jesus says His Father and His God is also ours; and that we, like Him, can have a personal relationship with His Father and His God! This is not something new, found only in the New Testament. The Lord says of His darling David in the Old Testament, “He shall cry unto me, “Thou art my father, my God...”

Interestingly Jesus puts “Father,” first. I knew a saint who always addressed Him in prayer as, “Father God.” I thought then that he should have put God before Father. But it seems now he was more scriptural than I thought. When Christ was asked by His disciples to teach them to pray, He taught them, as A.W. Pink refers to it, “The Family Prayer.” He begins it with, “Our Father...”

And even to this present hour, Jesus Christ is still teaching His followers about this intimate relationship. Paul tells us, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba (Papa), Father.” You will remember, I’m sure, this is how our Lord referred to His God in the Garden, when praying in agony, “ And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” He believed, in the final analysis, His Father knew best!  

O, family of God, isn't it awesome? Our heavenly Father is none other than Almighty God Himself!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

If a Thing is Worth Doing

We all, I think, understand the little quip, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” Though I do not think many would grasp G.K. Chesterton’s witticism, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” To smile and dismiss this witty saying as just that, witty, is like throwing the oyster away with a pearl of great price within it.

Now I readily agree with the first quip, if speaking of professionalism, such as things like doctoring or piloting. But if speaking of amateurism, as in the second statement, like mothering and rearing children, I agree with Chesterton. Someone has said, “An amateur is someone who does something out of love, not for money.”

Many believe because they cannot do a thing well they should leave it to the professionals, thinking they can do better. But the world is made up of the common, not the elite. For example, a few professional workers in a daycare center can never raise children like everyday common mothers can.

Chesterton's saying is not an excuse for poor effort. It’s simply saying if a thing is worthy, give it a good try, even if you feel you’ll do badly. The emphasis being on the “thing,” not you. As the saying goes, “I’d rather try something a hundred times and fail ninety-nine,  succeeding once, than to have never tried at all.

O, beloved saint, some things in life are worthy of our attempt, even if it ends in a bad result for us. Living for God is worthy, even if we fail in our effort! After all, isn’t being a bad Christian better than being no Christian at all?