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