Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's Calendar Year

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you...Remember this day, in which ye came out from... bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out.”


Though they may differ in many respects, both Jewish or Gentile calendars have at least one simple common connection: each has a beginning of months and a first day. The practical and spiritual truths of the former can most certainly be applied to the latter without desecrating that blessed and memorial day of the first. A day in which, for God’s people, old things had passed away; and from henceforth all things will become new. It marks the beginning of Israel's life as a nation. What a way to start a new year!


This pivotal day commemorated a day for which they had longed, for oh, so long a time. A day of liberation from bondage and servitude; a day of freedom to worship and serve their God, without the strings of the world's puppeteer controlling them (Pharaoh, a type of Satan). A day in which God begins to guide and direct them and their families’ lives. All made possible by the death of a lamb and its blood being applied to their individual lives. Each lamb a prototype of THE LAMB OF GOD who was to, and has, come!

Brethren, know assuredly that the Blood of Christ makes it possible for you also, as God’s people of old, to begin anew, leaving all the hurts, shame, sins, and failures behind you; along with any and all the unpleasantries you may have experienced in Egypt. This day can be the beginning for you! A day of which you can call to memory in years to come. A day much to be remembered. Christ's powerful sacrificial Blood was shed over two thousand years ago. All that remains is, “WILL YOU COME OUT OF EGYPT?”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Can You Help?

Beloved,

It was said of George Mueller that he never made his needs known to man, only to God. This is certainly commendable, if one is so led, but it does not seem the Apostle Paul followed this pattern. However, one could find scripture to justify such a life.

My plan, following the example of Dr. M.R. De Haan, well-known radio preacher of past years, has always been to make my needs known to the people of God and then leave it between them and their Lord.

Some years back, when we still paid income taxes, I asked my tax consultant which category I fit into financially. He smiled and said, "You're poor." Salle and I now live on our Social Security checks that together total less than a $1,000.00 a month. My son, Andrew, helps with our rent. A dear brother in Missouri has for years  taken care of the large pressing needs that come upon one from time to time. Others, ten in number (three of these churches) keep us going with day to day needs, such as  food, gas, clothes, etc.

Because of the economy or circumstances beyond their control, we have lost over $400.00 a month in support. This is beginning to take its toll. At the age of eighty-two, and with my health condition, there is not much I can do. We live in a mobile home park for senior citizens, where our rent over the years has gone up astronomically, with little increase in Social Security, if any. We also traded our old car of six years with well over 100,000 miles for another small compact. We owe for this, of course.

I've said all this to let you know our situation. Please ask God if there is anything He would want you to do. There are many worthy works, and I know you cannot support them all. If you could help, as some do, at $25.00 a month, it would be received with much thanksgiving. Some mistakenly believe that because they can't give a lot, they shouldn't give any. NOT TRUE!

If you can help this "Old Disciple," on a regular monthly basis, let me know. I'll send my mailing address.

A Thankful Servant,

Richard

"If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"    

Thursday, December 24, 2015

He Saves the Best For the Last

I wonder if your family is like ours was at Christmas time. Everyone’s best gifts were put at the bottom of the heap, under the tree, so they could receive them last. Whether we realize it or not, this is God’s way also. The scripture says, “Last of all He sent His Son.”

Then too, we have the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana, where, toward the end of the feast, He turned the water into wine.  When the ruler found out, he said to the bridegroom, in essence, “You saved the best to last.”  

Reader, I do not know your situation today, but I hope you keep in mind that He is saving His best for the last in your life. James tells us Job is to be our example. And of that old patriarch we are told, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”  Can you believe it? If you can, you will find He saves His best to those who wait!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

That One Thing

“And when he [Jesus] was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do (at this point Jesus told him)...And he answered and said unto him...Master, all these have I observed from my youth...Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest (and here Jesus told him what was missing in his commitment)”

Taking the three Gospel accounts of this one recorded incident, we see this young man seeking spiritual truth came to the right person, the right way, and received the right answer. Yet this individual, who seemed to have it all together, was found wanting. Jesus told him, “Yet lackest thou one thing.”

Only one thing stood between him and His God. Just one thing keeping him from a life abundant, both here and hereafter. The tragedy of all tragedies, not unlike ourselves, was that he deemed his one thing to be more important and above God’s “one thing.”

I wonder, what is our one thing that is keeping us from God’s best in our lives? No matter how much Christ loved this young man, He could not make him the recipient of of this great blessing of life, for the one thing between them, that one singular thing he was holding in his bosom so tightly.

God is not interested so much in what we have given Him; He has that. His concern is that one thing we’re holding back. It is not the outstretched arm with all the things in an open hand He desires, but that one thing in a tightly clenched fist, behind our backs, He wants!

If our story teaches us anything, it teaches us, it’s possible to do everything right and have them all undone because of one thing done wrong. This, as in the young man’s life, only leads to grief and sorrow.   

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Great Grace

“...and great grace was upon them all.”

Grace has many facets, but apart from salvation, I think possibly the greatest of all graces is the grace to continue on in life. That is, to endure. To keep on keeping on, if you please. Without this, all the other graces are held in time. They would be part of a stagnant history, telling them over and over, with no fresh grace to glory in. Accordingly, one would never be able to experience any of God’s abundant grace He has waiting for us up the road, in the future.

I think maybe Paul would have agreed with my opinion. I say this based on his testimony in Acts, where he says “Having therefore obtained help  of God (grace), I continue unto this day.” If you're the least familiar with this dear man’s life and ministry, you’re aware that it was not “guts” apart from grace, that got him through those oft tumultuous times. Intestinal fortitude may take one the first mile, but it takes grace to go that long, tedious second mile.

Those who go the distance credit GRACE and GRACE alone.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Have You Thought About It?

I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”

Brief statements such as: “I never thought of it that way”; “Think it through”; “Give it some thought,” are not just fluff, they have some real and meaningful substance connected to them. You’ll find them, sometimes hidden, throughout the scriptures.

I do not know if David would have, generally speaking, agreed with the little quip, “Don’t give it a second thought.” Many of us have gotten ourselves in hot water because we didn’t think twice. Impulsive thinkers, for the most part, regret their hasty decisions.

Peter was one such, like some of us, his mouth moved while his brain was idling. As a result it caused him grief of soul, “And when he thought thereon, he wept.” He would not have had to have this painful second thought, had he given some long thought at the beginning.

David was one who believed in using, as Hercule Poirot puts it, “the little grey cells.” David gave thought to his ways. The times when he neglected to, spelled out heartache, and at one interval in his life, real tragedy, both to him as well as others.
       
“What we do will follow us into another world when what we have must be left behind.” (Matthew Henry)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Two-Letter Word

One of my oldest sermon series, going back years, is one entitled, Character Traits in a Christian’s Life. One of the dozen virtues I list  is, “Learn to Say No!” I fully realize it is a negative. But life is made up of both positive and negative. You can’t get through life without the two of them.

There is power in negative thinking, as well as positive. We see this in the Ten Commandments. Much of the trouble we find ourselves in, both physically or spiritually, is because we will not say, “NO!” to unscriptural appetites, whether good or bad.

The first word a child learns as soon as he or she is able to understand is, No! Or at least it should be. Saying an emphatic no to the flesh’s desires and tastes is one of the main essentials if one is going to be an, “overcomer.” The flesh can never please God, no matter how tenderly it presents itself.

The flesh must be dealt with in an uncompromising and unmerciful way. The story of Samuel and Agag illustrates this. “Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag (type of flesh) the king of the Amalekites... And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past...And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.”

You kill the Amalekite or the Amalekite will ultimately kill you. Ask King Saul!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Why God Gave Brains

If we were created in the image of God, and He was the original, independent Thinker, and we are told to, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”; then it goes without saying, each of us should be doing some thinking on our own. But I’m afraid today we have more corporate thinking, than individual thought. In the former you have one person doing the thinking for the group; in the latter, individuals are doing their own thinking, independently of anyone else. For a group of individuals to think for themselves, and then come to the same conclusion, this can be both healthy and safe. But for one to do this for the whole is dangerous indeed.

You can always spot independent thinkers; they surround themselves with writers and associates who do not necessarily hold all their views. Such reading and discussions are not threatening to them, but rather enlightening. Those who encompass themselves with like-minded people and literature, never grow, but continue to be intellectual pygmies till the day of their demise.

Without argument, most of us are 75% assimilations of the books we’ve read, people we have associated with, parental teachings, and schools we attended. But what of the other 25%? Are we to let it lie dormant all our lives? I for one do not want to spend the rest of what life I have left parroting others. That would be a strange bird indeed.

Bodies devoid of mind are as statues in the market place. ~Euripides

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Devils Doctrines

Paul wrote two letters to his preacher boy, Timothy, concerning professing saints in the Church in the “latter times.” He warns his protégé, Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

God deals in the singular, Satan in pluralities. God has one Spirit, and never speaks of His doctrine as being multiple. On the other hand, Satan has many spirits and doctrines; which, like Jezebel in the church at Thyatira, spiritually seduce God’s people and teach devilish doctrines.

These teachings are all inclusive. That is, they deal with every part of an individual, the whole man. Lying hypocrisy speaks of the spiritual; a seared conscience of one’s mental condition; in rejecting marriage of the moral life; and of refusing meats, the physical aspect.

You see all these Satanic teachings today in the “New Age” doctrines. They include a little bit of many the world’s religions, such as: Oriental Mysticism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Spiritualism, New Thought, and of course, a tad of Christianity to convince ignorant saints of their authenticity.

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bittersweet

“...it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” John’s “little book” was bittersweet. I, personally, have never cared for bittersweet chocolate; I like the creamy milk chocolate. That is also true of my life; but, I’m afraid, I’ve had to take the bitter with the sweet, whether I liked it or not.

Romans 8:28 is sweet to the taste, but to assimilate it and make it a part of life is another thing. Some of the “all things” can be bitter when digested. But both sorrow and joy are to be part of the diet of our lives. It is sweet to quote certain texts, but, when we have to swallow them, it can be difficult.

It is good to recall when Moses cast a "tree" into the bitter waters they became sweet. So it is with us, when we cast the "tree" upon which He was crucified (1Peter 2:24), the bitter is turned into sweetness. When the soul hungers for God, every bitter thing becomes sweet.

Shooting at the Sun

On more than one occasion in these articles I’ve used the story of the lad shooting his BB-Gun at the sun. When being asked by his neighbor what he was doing and then being told, his neighbor disparagingly said, “Son, you’ll never reach it,” to which the little urchin replied, “I know, Sir, but I’m getting closer than you.”

This is the attitude, I believe, one should have toward the scripture. After reading all that’s commanded and expected of us as believers, one feels overwhelmed. You feel, as the neighbor said, “You’ll never reach it.” But instead of throwing up our hands in utter dismay and defeat let us remember no one ever has, except the Son of God.

God’s requirements for the Christian life is something we should shoot for; while at the same time realizing we all come short. We will always miss the mark. No one ever has or will hit the bull's-eye (except the aforementioned). Each time I think I’m close to my desired goal of godliness, someone pulls me back. Paul refers to him as the “old man.”

Those professing saints who wear the large letter “S” across the front of them, denoting “Super-Saint,” are a myth, just as the man from Krypton. We’re all made from the same cloth, and there is a fault in every pattern. The defect shows more on some than others, but be assured, though hidden, it’s there. 

It’s good to know there is a perfect suit of clothing awaiting all true saints who continue to “shoot high.”   

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Courageous Christians

On the journey to my Celestial home, I’ve met some courageous Christians. They have not fought with lions in the arena, been tortured on the rack, or had to endure the painful fires as they were chained to a stake; nevertheless, they were no less brave souls.

The first of these bold brethren I met at the religious world’s masquerade ball. He dared to take off his false-face for all to see. Yes, there were blemishes, even some unsightly warts, but what a delight to meet someone in whom “what you saw was what you got.” He was not a “phantom of the opera,” thinking he needed to hide behind a mask all his life. I’ve always been impressed with the peace and contentment displayed on the countenance of such a person.

There was a second stout-hearted individual I encountered as I, along with a small remnant, was attempting to climb the mount of God. He had turned his back from the masses who thought other things were just as important as knowing God, to spend his life doing “this one thing.” He dared to be different. He was scorned, and looked down upon, but what a glow of God was upon his face as he ascended!

Last, but not least, was a student that I met in the classroom of life. As I entered, it seemed the entire student body had these silly hats on called “dunce caps.” But this one lone seeker of truth stuck out from the rest, for he had exchanged his hat for a “thinking cap.” All the class agreed that he must be dangerous, for he was an independent thinker.

Courageous Christians are not recruited from the ranks of the cowardly.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Christian's Devotional Life

In preparing this article, I went online and found one writer who came up with twenty- eight different ways to have devotions. After skimming them, I found that after fifty-eight years being a Christian myself, I had used many of them. It is good from time to time to change your Bible reading habit. Variety can be the spice of a saint’s devotional life. Don’t allow this blessed time to become ritualistic. It is too precious to become hum-drum.

Here is a brief list of some suggested ways you might choose to read your Bible: read straight through; read from both Testaments; divide your Bible up and read three to five different sections a day; listen to the Bible read through by Alexander Scourby; or read along as he is reading it (using any of the above methods); there are a score of ways to read and enjoy your Bible. Find some different ones you’re comfortable with and dig in.

The important thing is being in the Word. But you do not have to gather your daily Manna the same way year by year. Generally, it is good to go through the Bible once a year, keeping in mind it is not how many times you go through the Bible but how many times it has gone through you! One great old-time saint did not have a particular amount of pages or chapters he read daily; he read, said he, “till me heart burns within me.”

I have found my spiritual life is directly in line with my devotional life. The former comes no higher than the latter. Therefore, it behooves each of us to be devoted to our devotions. As I have mentioned in previous articles, I want my life to be saturated with the Bible, soaked in the Holy Scriptures, if you please. O, how love I to “wallow in the Word!” I long and thirst to have an encyclopedic knowledge of His blessed Book.

“This Book will keep me from sin; or sin will keep me from this Book.”
(D.L. Moody)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Last Days

Regular readers of The Journal, even a casual one, would come to my defense, I believe, if I were accused of being a gloom and doom writer. I try to stay away from “novelty doctrines.” Nevertheless, anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church is aware every age had devotees, who believed their age to be the last. The signs mania is as old as the Church itself.

The writer of Hebrews plainly pinpoints the “last days” as beginning with Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have lived in the last days for over 2000 years. But having said this, any logical, thinking person, would have to admit, there must to be a last for the last days someday. Believe what you will about the last day advocates, but it all has to come to an end, one day. One camp would have us believe that day is present; whereas the other would suggest it is sometime in the distant future.


My personal view is that although there have always been signs, they have been selective and local, rather than entire and world-wide in their appearance. I believe before our Lords returns the second time to earth, the many signs referred to in scriptures will be entire in their number, universal in scope, and simultaneous in their goings-on (such as earthquakes).  I could be wrong in my assessment, but one way or the other, as my dear friend Dr. John R. Rice used to say, “Jesus is coming again, signs or no signs.” AMEN!  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

He Knows All About Us

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I like one old writer’s comment on this text of how Jesus’ words helped ease the disciples embarrassment for sleeping while He was agonizing in prayer. Not by a stern rebuke or an unending scolding. But by simply letting them know He understood their weaknesses and limitations. Precious truth, is it not, that our God became flesh that He might understand our weaknesses? Much of the book of Hebrews is about this very thing. 

He’s acquainted with our human nature. Not only the important issues we face in life, but the trivial also. For example: having a limited wardrobe; parents who almost got a divorce; physical exhaustion; loved ones misunderstanding; being grieved; extreme loneliness; fixing breakfast; being laughed at; criticized for His Godly life; rebuked by an inferior; having to borrow a penny; to weep and groan; and to suffer excruciating pain in death. Not to mention a host of other things associated with mankind.

Sitting on the side of her little girl’s bed, after prayer and a kiss goodnight, the mother rose to leave the bedroom and turn out the light. But before she could the wee one explained, “Mommy, I’m afraid in the dark.” To which the mother replied, “You need not be. God is here, although you can’t see Him.” The girl answered, “I know, but I want someone with skin on him.” And this is exactly what God did for us, His fearful children. “And the Word (God) was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Thing at Hand

“This One Thing I Do” The Apostle did not mean the only thing when he mentions one thing. He was speaking of the main thing. He could walk and chew gum at the same time, but the former was the most important. Chewing gum would not have gotten him where he was going.

Paul majored on the majors. Far too many are majoring on minors. We do it in our daily duties, doctrinal beliefs, as well as a score of other things pertaining to life and religion. Any good housewife and cook knows it’s the main course that counts. The side dishes are not meant to be the main dish.

In any given situation, decide what is top priority, what really counts, what is most important to God as well as to yourself. Then do it with everything that’s in you. As David said, when readying for God’s House, Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God.”  

It is good to remember the thing at hand, big or small, menial or noble, could possibly be the last thing we ever do on earth before meeting God!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Prayer

“For mercies countless as the sands,
Which daily I receive
From Jesus, my Redeemer’s hands,
My soul, what canst thou give?

Alas! from such a heart as mine
What can I bring Him forth?
My best is stained and dyed with sin,
My all is nothing worth.

Yet this acknowledgment I’ll make,
For all He has bestowed:
Salvation’s sacred cup I’ll take,
And call upon my God.”
(John Newton , 1725-1807)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Not Mandatory

“If he offer…the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” A number of the Levitical offerings were mandatory, but the thank offering was voluntary. It was not “when ye offer,” but “if ye offer.” As far as I can find, no one offered this voluntary sacrifice of thanksgiving until David—not Moses, not Aaron, or anyone else. For close to 500 years, God had not smelled a sweet savor of a thank offering. Is it any wonder this shepherd boy, who became a man of God, had wiggled his way into God’s heart? How pleased the Lord was with such sacrifices. God seems to have an affinity for those who are most appreciative.

The Scriptures abound with the subject of thanksgiving. “In everything give thanks”; “Always giving thanks..;” “Come before his presence with thanksgiving.” If the Bible did not teach the giving of thanks, common courtesy would demand it for all God’s goodness to us. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good.” In Jesus’ prayers, He said, “I thank thee, O Father…” That’s an excellent example to follow. Let me suggest the next time you have the hum-drums, to try thanksgiving.

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Watcha Waitin For?

And now, Lord, what wait I for? ” A good question to ask, especially at this time of the year, when it is drawing to a close. I find all of us, in one way or the other, have made a profession out of procrastination. Some of us have become very proficient in it. We like to wait for the turn of the year until circumstances change, or when we have arrived, wherever that might be.

There is a lot of truth in the little quip, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” One of my philosophies in life, though I do not always adhere to it is, “When you know what God wants you to do, do it. If you don’t, the devil will talk you out of it.” Again, one of my homespun sayings will fit here: “I’m gonna never done nothin!” Begin now where you are. We’re not promised tomorrow, only today.

Let’s lay aside future resolutions and resolve today to take care of the task at hand!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Trusting God Around the Clock

When I first started preaching, I believed there should be a one-time committal by a believer to trust God with their life. As the years went on, I narrowed it down to a daily trust. I now see the Lord wants us to trust Him on a moment by moment basis.

David knew this blessed and revitalizing truth. In Psalm 62:8, he admonishes us to “trust in him at all times...” Not some of the time, but all of the time. We’re to depend upon God to perform all things for us. We are to have a habitual confidence in Him. Every second of the day, on every occasion, whether it be in emergency or elation, we’re to trust in Him.

On the screen of my cell phone I have put “Trust in God.” It matters not if the sun is shining, or in the blackness of night. The time, place, and circumstances do not change what is written. If I call for help, or just chat with a loved one, I always see the words, “Trust in God.”

In the future, may the Holy Spirit help each of us, when looking at a clock or watch, to remember we are to trust in God, no matter what time it is.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Our Way Home

After my tour of duty in Korea in 1951, I remember as just a teen, the commanding officer calling me into his office and saying, “You're going home, son.” I have no words to express the exuberant spirit that came over me. Home: Mom, loved ones, friends, all awaiting my arrival. And I longing to see them. Generally speaking I find what you don’t desire you don’t love.

I sincerely feel sadness for those Believers who, for lack of a better term, have put all their eggs in this world’s basket. Most certainly, we’re to enjoy life and the things God has given us, but always remembering this earth is headed for the ash-heap. He’s going to remake it. This world, as we know it, is only an inn where we stay on our way Home. Home is not only where the heart is, but where God is!

C.S. Lewis writes of going home to Ireland and applies it to Heaven: “These last few days! Every little nuisance, every stale or tiresome bit of work, every feeling of that estrangement which I never quite get over in another country, serves as a delightful reminder of how different it will all be soon. Already one’s mind dwells upon the sights and sounds and smells of home.”

Again, Lewis speaking of our final Home: “ We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard.” And to quote another writer, Henry Jowett: “Truly we are like children going home, jubilant and glad. We have been in the far country and our garments are stained.”

“Even the tired horse, when he comes near home, mends his pace,”
(Thomas Adams~Puritan)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Intellectual Biblical Scholarship

Nothing is harder to digest than an “intellectual snob,” that is, unless it is an “ignorant slob!” When the Bible says that some of Jesus’ followers were “unlearned and ignorant men,” it does not mean illiterate, but simply that they were void of any formal education. That Spiritual and intellectual giant A.W. Tozer, had only a ninth grade education. But he was known as the “Master Wordsmith.”

I was associated for years with a group that felt that anything that had the smell of intellect or scholarship associated with it should be viewed suspiciously. In fact, in most cases, it was just downright rejected from the first. It must be wrong, they reasoned, for it had “brains.” To them, God had rejected any and all great thinkers. This is, no doubt, the reason that little comes from this group that is worth reading. They equate scholarship with liberalism. To be sure, when one opposes godly scholarship they’re allowing their insecurity to show through!

I, for one, thank God for humble, Spirit-filled scholars. For example, where would we Bible students be without some of their reference books? And who would defend our Christian position before the intellects of the world? Usually, this type (worldly intellects) only give ear to their equal, or one who is superior. Intellectual scholarship has been used of God to bring many an intellectual infidel into the Kingdom of God. Thank God for men such as Cornelius Van Til, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, etc., who have influenced thousands from among the worldly wise to join Christ’s Blood-bought band.

Scholarship without the Spirit is like having an arrow without a bow; it can’t get the point across…while ignorance is like holding a bow without an arrow; you have no point to make.
(rds)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Lasting Legacy

“…this woman was full of good works…” This was Dorcas’ lasting legacy. She put into practice what Paul preached: “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.” She not only had a pattern for the coats and garments she made, but, more importantly, she left them a Godly “cut-out” that they might pattern their lives after.

Seneca was one of the greatest of the Stoic philosophers. He was falsely accused by Nero of conspiracy and ordered to take his own life. He was refused the right to leave a will. Turning to his weeping family and friends, he said he would leave them the best thing he had— the pattern of his life.

Good works speak louder than great words.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Laying it to Herat

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.”

The glory of God is the one aim and end of the saint's life. It is the main principle and rule for our very existence. The awful result of not doing so is to have God curse one's blessings, spiritually as well as materially. The things that God provides for our wealth, like the Jews in our text, can become our want.

King Midas thought it a blessing that everything he touched turned to gold, until he touched his daughter. Then the blessing became a curse. It’s a serious thing to not take God seriously. Christianity is a serious business. Cross-bearing is not for the frivolous! In Bible times, if you saw a man carrying a cross you knew he wasn’t going to a banquet.

God is not against “fun and games,” but in the midst of them we’re to remember the tremendous price He paid that we could enjoy fullness of life. Our joy and happiness came at a great cost to both the Father and Son. In the midst of the cheerfulness of a wedding,  Jesus had the Father’s business on His mind. He laid it to heart. Should not we?

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

There-Was a Man

In todays population I can understand a little how God must have felt when He told Ezekiel, “I sought for a man among them…but I found none.” I’m not speaking of what the world defines as manly, but God’s description. The former always looks on the outward appearance, while the latter views the inside. And so, let us be clear, we’re not addressing a physical roughness, but ruggedness of character. It is possible to be big on the outside, with a midget of a man on the inside. On the other hand, I’ve met many a man who was small of stature, but who was a giant of a man within.

We have so-called Christian writers today who, while posing as a man, stand hiding themselves behind a fountain pen. And many in our pulpits want to pass themselves off as real men, who stand for something, but are actually only kept up by the starch in their clothes! My personal description of a man is one who does what needs to be done, simply because it needs doing, regardless of the cost. My Grandpa Morrison worked as a night-watchman forty years at a paper mill, and he never missed a day in all that time; while raising a family of seven. He proudly received his gold pocket-watch at retirement. He was 5’2’’ and weighted 125 pounds. WHAT A MAN HE WAS!

When a male was born in Bible times he was referred to as a, “Man child.” In other words, every male child was born with the potential of being a real man. Only by either neglect, or by training and conditioning, will he be otherwise. Feminization of the male spirit is unnatural! This is why a single mother must keep her son(s) around manly men. Timothy’s mother and grandmother did a super job; but it was Paul who put the icing on the cake. From childhood, I cannot remember a day that I have not admired manliness, and wanted only to be a part of their clan. On my tomb-stone, I know of no greater epitaph to have than what was said of John the Baptist, “There was a man.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Its Gotta Be Earned

I find many in today’s shallow and unprincipled culture believe unconditional love automatically carries with it unequivocal respect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The former is free, the latter earned. The first is a gift, the second is merited.

People who possess real character are so constituted that they refuse to give (or accept) respect on a wholesale basis. Never mistake a person accepting who you are, for thinking they approve of the way you are.

We are told in the scriptures “…the Lord had respect unto Abel…But unto Cain…he had not respect.” From this we find that if one is to gain God’s respect, a body must be presented Him as a living sacrifice (Ro.12:1-2).

A father may love all his children alike, but that doesn’t mean he respects them all the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Unsought Blessings

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”

There was no prayer, that we know of, made for this son; nor, as in many cases, was Jesus sought out for help. This is what I like to call, an unsought blessing. In one of Peter’s sermons, he tells us God sent His Son to bless us. Anyone who is the least familiar with the Bible knows God is in the blessing business! And I may add, He will never go out of this business! Its everlasting. He’s still dropping, “handfuls of purpose.”

David, no doubt, was referring to these unsought blessings when he wrote, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth (I like this word) us with benefits.” God delights in showering His creatures with blessings. Even those who refuse to own Him as their Lord. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” It’s a sorry person who takes God’s blessings for granted.

I love the sentiment behind the song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” But those who really know Him realize this is an impossibility. It would be like numbering the stars.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

BLESSED BE THE BLESSER

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Godly Doubters

Does our title sound like a misnomer? Well it isn’t. Good and godly people can have doubts from time to time, for one reason or another. At the very start of John the Baptist’s ministry, he had affirmed who Jesus was with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God.” But later on, toward the end of his ministry, from a secluded prison cell, the prophet sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Art thou He…or do we look for another?”

During this dark time in the life of one of our Lord’s choice servant’s lives, Jesus replies in the affirmative to the first part of his question, then adds, saying, to all present, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” This reminds me of the time I pastored in Florida years ago. There was a preacher in a neighboring town who taught that if a Christian ever doubted, he or she was lost. How un-Christ like! How un-scriptural!

My sweet and blessed mother-in law, whom I referred to simply as “Mamaw,” had Alzheimer’s before the Lord called her home. During those days when she looked through a glass darkly, she questioned whether or not her husband, “Hoppy,” was really her husband. My father-in-law lovingly took their marriage license, put it in a frame, and hung it on a wall where she could see it regularly. Need I apply this precious story to those times when we too, like Mamaw, have our times of confusion and doubt?

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life."