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."