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.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Testimonies/Tread Lightly

We need to be very careful when giving our testimonies, as well as hearing or reading them. Even those found in the Holy Scriptures. They're for our learning, not necessarily for us to emulate. As an old divine once wrote, "We are to seek the apostles' teachings, not their experience." When we're told we should follow their example, it's generally in principle, not experience. 

Throughout my long tenure as a gospel preacher I have both heard and read quite a few testimonies that would curl your hair, as the saying goes. I found in my own case as a young believer, when I gave my personal testimony, as the audience became more awestruck , like the "blow-fish," my testimony got bigger and bigger. The flesh loves to wow people, and it seems many want it so.

Acts has twenty-eight chapters and covers some thirty years. The Holy Spirit records Paul's testimony once, and the "chief of sinners" gives it twice, publicly. He mentions bits and pieces in his personal letters to churches and individuals, but not in its entirety. That means Paul gave his testimony publicly two times in thirty years. It was not for general public consumption, it seems.This gentle giant of a man was not in the habit of calling attention to himself, but the ONE who saved him.

My wife was saved as a child of nine, and never experienced the ravages of sin in her life. On the other hand, I lived a life of sin and debauchery for twenty-four years. People would flock to hear my testimony, but not hers. Yet, she had the greatest of we two. 

New Book

Dear Readers of the Blog,

This past Spring, while I was recuperating from a heart attack and five by-passes, my wife flew to Kentucky/Ohio to speak at a Ladies conference and to visit her sisters. I was well on my way to recovery, and she needed a break from being a nurse.

During the weeks of her absence, the Lord laid heavily upon on my heart a desire to compile a yearly devotional book, as many of you through the years have requested I do. God gave strength and wisdom, and I finished it before her arrival home, praise His Name!

Today, Salle finished the long arduous task of proof reading and the rest of the many things that go into preparing a manuscript for publishing. Please pray we will be able to put it out before the first of the year. 

I have entitled it, Breakfast With the King. The three-hundred and sixty-five readings each consist of two brief paragraphs and a thought. You will be able, as our little booklet, Spilt Milkto purchase it at cost, plus mailing. You will order it direct from the publisher, NOT ME. This way I do not have to order a certain quantity in advance; they produce them as ordered. This will be a great help to us, in every way. We'll keep you updated on the progress. For now...

Please Pray,

Richard

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Last Journey

"And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem." Christ visited Jerusalem on more than one occasion, I think four times. Each was a progression toward this, His final trek, for the express purpose of suffering and dying there.

Our Lord took life seriously and grasped every opportunity to glorify His Father. He practiced what He preached, that is, doing your duty today and letting tomorrow take care of itself. He knew what the near future held for Him, but He also knew Who held His future! And rested in that.

I have never ceased being awestruck at the amazing character displayed in the life of the Man, Christ Jesus. The grand finale of life is rapidly approaching and we find Him, as when He was young, busy about His Father's business. The Cross lying before Him, yet not self-centered, but like always, God-centered. 

At the close of His final days on earth, still eaten up with His zeal for God.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Go One Way or the Other

"Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set." 

This past year or so I have experienced such indecision on a certain matter I thought it would drive me crazy at times. I hesitate to mention it, lest I be embarrassed at its triviality. But the devil (or the flesh) made sure I majored on this minor concern every waking moment. Neither prayer, thought, or council, brought any solace of soul. It was especially difficult because any one of the three or four ways I could go would please the Lord, and better me as a Christian.

Finally in my desperation and exasperation I gave up. Then the answer came! The Holy Spirit seemed to lay upon my heart the words of Jonathan's armourbearer, "Do all that is thine heart." 
After briefly meditating on the choice I was most comfortable with, I settled it in my heart; then the double-mindedness and unsettledness ceased. As someone has said, "When Christ has His way with you, you can have your way with Him."    

Most certainly we must always, first and foremost, ask God's choice in any and all matters of life; big and small. But after having done so, many times He will reverse the question, "What would you like?" Is this not what we answer our obedient children when asked, "Father, what do you think I should to do?" Do not we often say, "What do you want to do?" And so it is with God! After all, who better to make a choice concerning one's person than a Spirit-filled child of God, who wants and desires only His glory?

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision."
Joel 3:14

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Righteous Rags

There seems to be a growing emphasis on man’s “righteousnesses,” rather than God’s righteousness. It has to do with the singular and the plural. In spite of the old prophet telling us that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” we persistently pursue, flaunting both ours and others’. Daniel, one of the Bible’s godliest men prayed, “[W]e do not present our supplication before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.”

The Scriptures know nothing of any righteousness other than God’s inward, imputed righteousness. Any and all outward righteous acts performed by us must come as a result of His working in us. All righteous acts not originating from God are “ragged rags.”

It’s time we put the emphasis back on God’s righteousness and realize who and what we really are. The song writer got it right when he penned, “I am all unrighteousness/ False and full of sin I am/ Thou art full of truth and grace.” In C.S. Lewis’ book Surprised by Joy, He writes a description of his heart, after God had revealed it to him: “a zoo of lust; a bedlam of ambitions; a nursery of fears; and a harem of fondled hatreds.”

"The self-righteous man sits self-governed in his own right; he is his own god."
(Oswald Chambers) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cultic Christians

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants…” There is a principle found in this text that talks to us all. It is possible for one to encourage others to leave one kind of bondage only to enter into another kind. The “promiser’s” kind. This type promises but cannot produce. The reason? They themselves are enslaved within their own group.

Many wonder how it is that cults can so easily sway Christians when recruiting them into their ranks. The answer is fairly simple. Most of their converts come from assemblies not unlike their own. Therefore, it takes very little adjusting on the part of the one who is proselytized. They feel more or less at home.

There are basically three main cultic characteristics: first, there is unquestioning loyalty to the leader; secondly, there is an exclusion of all who are independent thinkers; and thirdly, there is absolutely no spiritual growth to be seen. Let each of us beware lest we be a cultic Christian.

Addendum by D.M. Lloyd-Jones: "There are cults that can change your life, cults that can deliver you from things that defeat you, cults that can give you happiness. Psychotherapy also can do so, and many other agencies, even an operation on your brain. We must have a test. If the experience is not an experience of the living God through His Son who has come to live and to die and rise again in order to give it; if it is not through the Holy Spirit, it is not a true Christian experience."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Unconventional Approach

Yes, God chose David; but David chose the five smooth stones. There are times God expects us to choose the best means to use in taking care of the giant obstacles in our path. We are all different—different in temperaments, tastes, and talents. We are to consider this, and choose what is best, and most suitable for us, in winning over our Goliaths.

We cannot always overcome the difficulties of life in traditional ways. Saul’s armor does not fit everybody. In fact, to use it can be burdensome to us, and cause defeat, rather than victory. Most of God’s people are not trained military tacticians, but, left to themselves, are excellent with their own unorthodox slingshots.

You choose what you’re comfortable with. That’s the way to decapitate the foe that faces you. Never let anyone force you to go in their armor; you were not fitted for it, and it certainly does not fit you. "One size DOES NOT fit all."

Your minute stone is mightier than Saul’s military sword, if it’s what you are most at home with. David “ran” to meet his problem, head-on, with a holy assurance. Why? Because he was using the thing he was most at ease with—a simple sling and a stone.

Dare to be different!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Daniel, God, and the 21st Century

Had Daniel been transported to our day, how do I think he would have lived life for his God? Most certainly, it would be no easy thing to move from ox drawn carts; pen, ink, and parchment; robe and sandals; swords and spears, to a suit and tie; slip-on shoes; cars and planes; cell phones; computers; e-books; and atomic weaponry. But to a man of principle, a change in environment doesn't change him. He lived by eternal, unchangeable principles. 

The man "greatly beloved of God" would have told our age, with all its advanced learning and tech knowledge, just what he told his own. First, that "there is a God in heaven"; secondly, "that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men; and thirdly, "the people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Notice Daniel spoke to his generation of three personages, God, mankind, and the people of the Lord. This is significant and instructive for us living today.

Lost humanity needs to know a sovereign God is in heaven who is in control of this world and all that is therein and does whatsoever pleases Him. His plan will ultimately come to fruition and finite man will not thwart it. HE IS LORD! On the other hand, His children need to be reminded that by a personal knowledge of this supreme God, who sits in the heavenlies, strength will be imparted to them to accomplish great and mighty things, which they know not. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you know but WHO you know that's important!   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Courage to Continue

“Be of good courage.” You’ll find this phrase, and kindred ones, throughout the Scriptures. Life can be hard, and it takes courage to keep on. But, you say, what does one do when he or she has lost his or her courage? My answer? Continue on courageously. The reason this is possible is because at such times, we all keep back a little intestinal fortitude in reserve.

When you have lost everything near and dear to you, you must deliberately pick up and start over again. A good homespun definition of courage is this: When there is nothing left in your life but a pile of ashes, place a sign in the midst for all to read saying, “Business tomorrow as usual.” A self-pitying life is a self-destructive life.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” 
-John Wayne

Friday, October 3, 2014

Good Intentions

The old preachers of my time used to say, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." This is true, but just as true is the fact that heaven is populated with such people, and not just a few. It all comes down to motive as to God's acceptance of such intentions. That is, whether one's intent is to glorify the God of Glory, this is the case in the latter mentioned.

We see this principle played out in David's life in the building of the Temple. "And the LORD said unto David...Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart. Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house." God choosing him to be a man of war prevented him from his life-long desire.

Many of us had wonderful plans for our lives, how we could glorify our precious Lord, but He had another design for us. Yet, at the judgement seat of Christ, to the surprise of many, they will be rewarded as if they actually carried out their dreams and good intentions for their God, although, like Solomon in David's case, someone else will fulfill it in our place.

Our Sovereign King will both recognize and accept what we would have done if we could have done it for His great name.