Saturday, March 28, 2015

Contented...Right Now?

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Our text teaches us it is possible to live a godly life and at the same time be void of a contented life. Peter writes in his second epistle that godliness can have additives. And so Paul tells us that when a Believer adds contentment to his or her godly life, it is a great gain. Contentment has to do with our present circumstances, that is, whatever surrounds us at any given time. It does not primarily have to do with the past or future. The question to continually ask ourselves is, "Am I content right now, at this very moment?"

Contentment doesn't cancel out improvement, which is an ongoing process; but we do need to be content with who we are, where we are, and what we're doing, at any given instance. If we are surrendered to God's will, we need to realize it is He that's been making us who we are, up to this present hour. And it is He who has led us to where we are, at this period of time. Also, what we are doing now in our life, He prepared the work and qualified us for it. I have found over these many years in my own life, when discontented, I can trace the cause back to not being content with God.

"My crown is called contentment; A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy". ~William Shakespeare

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Lifetime With One Bible

A note to our readers: I originally planned a series of articles on the subject of, "A Lifetime With One Bible," but decided to bring it in one, a taster, so to speak.

I have spent all my Christian life these past fifty-five years with one Bible. While others spent countless hours comparing various translations, I was burning the night oil comparing scripture with scripture. I did not come to believe the Bible I hold to be the very Words of God, preserved for the English speaking people, because I was told it. I felt from the beginning of my walk with God that if this old beloved Bible I hold in my hands, and is so dear to my heart as it was our forefathers, was in truth, the infallible Word of God, then it must of necessity stand on its own two feet (Testaments); IT MUST PROVE ITSELF, without any help from any well intentioned religious Uzzah.

I observed early on those Fundamentalist and Evangelicals who criticized the Church of Rome for saying they were the only interpreters of the scriptures were guilty, in type, of the same error. They incessantly ran to Greek and Hebrew scholars for their final authority as to what the scriptures taught. And if not that, going to the many translations to glean out of each what he or she believed to be God's pure Word; thereby privately interpreting the scriptures, which God says is a no-no. I observed each would pick and choose what he or she believed to be God's Word, the problem being, each chose a portion another would say is not in the original, which does not exist.

The following are just a few of the many things God has used to show me personally and convince me He has only One Book! Therefore making me a man of One Book.

 1. The so-called archaic word "spue" in Rev. 3:16 is interpreted in Lev. 
     18:25,27-28 as "vomit."

 2. One does not have to go to the Greek or Hebrew to find that Christ 
     means "anointed one." Compare Psa. 2:22 with Acts 4:26.  

 3. You need not go to a dictionary to find what "succour" means. Compare    

    2 Cor. 6:2 with Isa. 49:8. It means, helper.

 4. There is no need to go to the Greek to find that the word "church" 
     means "a called out assembly," (Look up Acts 7:38 and Ex. 16:3).

 5. The Greek and Hebrew authorities tell us "inspiration," referring to the 
     Word means, "God breathed." But God's final authority tells us this in 
     the English: 2 Tim. 3:16 and Psa. 33:6.

 6. As to the word "testament" meaning "covenant," just compare Heb. 
     9:19-20 with Ex. 24:8.

 7. And that difficult passage about prophecies failing in 1 Cor. 13:8 is 
     cleared up in Psa. 12:1, where you find "fail" and "cease" are used         
     interchangeably. Therefore, prophecies will fail to be, or if you 
    prefer, cease to be. 

This brief article is presented, as all my articles, to get you to think on your own, whether you agree with me or not. Please, for your own sake, think, think, think! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Short Prayers

If "Jesus wept," is the shortest text in the Bible, most certainly, Peter's, "Lord, save me," is the shortest prayer. David prayed a similar prayer, but with five brief words added (Psl. 3:7a). In Jesus teaching on prayer we find we are not heard for our much speaking. The false prophets prayed from morning till night with no answer; Elijah's sixty-three worded prayer brought fire down from heaven. The wise man's admonition, "Let thy words be few," could be appropriately applied here. The Lord commended the Publican's five-worded prayer over the Pharisee's thirty-four.

Usually brevity is best not only in conversation and writing, but especially in prayer. Just as in writing, so in prayer, any word we can do without is better omitted. It is wise to do away with ornamental words, God is not impressed with them. As someone said, "Those who pray longest, have least to say." And A.W. Pink adds, "Long prayers are usually windy prayers." We need to tell the Lord what is in our hearts in as few words as possible. Many of us, I'm afraid, just like to hear ourselves talk. The old-fashioned phone, when we paid by the minute, helped us to keep it short and to the point.

When I returned to Ireland the second time with my wife and our two youngest children, to say the very least, it was a long, tedious, and trying journey. When we arrived at Belfast airport, we had to go through customs, and because of the "troubles," as they called them, they were very strict. When we presented our passports to the clerk, she looked at me strangely and said, "Sir, these passports expired last year; I'm sorry you'll have to return to your original point of departure, and have them renewed." I was so tired, I hadn't slept in over sixteen hours, the children and Salle were exhausted. I bowed my head and said, "Lord, change her." Immediately, I heard the approval stamp go down four times on each of the passports. Then she said, "I'll let you through this time, but get these passports renewed." Short prayers are by no means ineffective!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let Bygones Be Bygones

The maniac of Gadara did not spend the rest of his life in the grave yard once he was forgiven. He buried his former life there in the tombs and then threw away the shovel. He never even returned to put flowers on that miserable gravesite. Evidently he knew digging up unpleasant memories of the past gives out a worse stench than when originally buried.

We should not constantly be remembering things which God said He has forgotten. I’m told most patients in mental institutions are there because of something they cannot, or will not, forget in their past. Thus, it drives them crazy. Certainly there are consequences for past sins, but never is there condemnation once we have asked for forgiveness. What God forgives He forgets!

We cannot move on with our lives still wrapped in our grave clothes. Leave them at the grave. Both Lazarus and Jesus did!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Saint Overwhelmed...About What?!

 "Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me." The word "overwhelmed" is found only in the book of Psalms, seven times in seven verses. Both saints and sinners are referred to in the experiencing of it. In five of these seven times, David is speaking personally of his own situation.

God's child can be overwhelmed by many things: prolonged darkness in their spiritual life; firey trials, seven times hotter than they've ever known; an unexpected personal revelation of a dreaded disease, etc. But there is one unmentionable, for to discuss it one would not come across as being "spiritual."

I speak of being overwhelmed by the scriptures. All of the demands and commands seem unreasonable at times, and not only that, but unreachable. How many of us feel as Paul, "...for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." 

A characteristic of all true children of God is a longing to be sinlessly perfect, that they might not ever again grieve their blessed Lord. But in spite of this deep seated desire, the dirt remains, ingrained in our old nature, leaving us overwhelmed with guilt and grief, all our efforts seeming to fail.

But thanks be to God, "Like as a father pitieth his children,so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." David knew, in spite of God's high standards, He still gives His children elbow room, wiggle room, if you please (Psa. 119:96).

Our Lord put the bar high, knowing we'd never clear it in this life; but also knowing those who give it a try, get closer than those who give up the attempt. The Apostle tells us he would never be perfect in this life, but he would still strive and keep reaching for it.

Remember, God knows what you would do if you could do it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Open Windows

“[Daniel] went into his house; and his windows being open...” As my dear old mentor used to say, “Daniel had religion with windows in it.” We’d say today, his life was “an open book.” Or, “He lived in a glass house.” He was not intimidated by those he knew would misrepresent his Christian character. He was secure in his God. He was not a sinless saint, but was a sterling one. What you saw was what you got. There were no skeletons in Daniel’s closet—only God.

Though some will abuse and misuse it, when they see into the secrets of our lives, God will not. When we open the windows of our souls, and we look across the way, we find God’s window open in Heaven; and His delightful smile is toward us. And we will always find it to be so when we look toward our Spiritual, Heavenly Jerusalem, rather than an earthly, carnal Babylon for help.

As Noah of old, we only need one window in our lives, if it's an upper window !

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Tug of War

For a spiritual person it is not difficult to discern and choose between right and wrong. The real tug of war comes when you have two rights before you. Either way you go would be acceptable. An example of this would be Paul’s principal that he laid down to the Corinthian believers concerning a question they had. They were inquisitive to know whether the eating of certain meats was right or wrong. His practical answer was “…for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.” He goes on to tell them that as long as it doesn't infringe upon another, and does not have sin ingrained in it, they could do what they will. It was their choice. Either way God would accept them.

I find when I am in such a situation, the devil will condemn whichever way I take. That is, I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. This tactic keeps one from peace of mind and the enjoyment of life. Satan is an expert at creating a crisis condition out of a nondescript situation. Most of our double mindedness comes from having to choose between two good things. To remain passive when you are presented with your choice of either a creamy vanilla ice cream cone, or a tantalizing milk chocolate, is to remain in a state of being neutrally miserable. Grab one or the other, and enjoy it in God’s name. And I really don’t think He would consider you double-minded if you took a dip of each.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mistaking Your Enemy

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

It is hard to hear the truth about oneself, but many of us do not realize, it is just as difficult, (in many cases) for those who tell us the truth. As the Second World War medic told his trainees, “If you're not willing to hurt them, you can’t help them.” When those stinging, truthful, words come from the lips of loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, we need to remember the wise man's words: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

We Christians are a strange breed. We love to show our pseudo-spirituality by telling others of our unworthiness, but when someone else says the same thing to us, inwardly, we are enraged at the speaker. The sad truth is, most, if not all of us, do not believe a word we say about our condition. But by presenting this “shew of humility,” we believe people will hold us in a high position with the spiritually elite. It's important for us to be important!

Rather than deny that unwholesome man or woman we’re told we represent, we’d rather live in self-denial of him or her; and in place set up a “straw man.” But such will go up in flames at the Judgement Seat of Christ, leaving us with nothing but ashes to account for our lives lived here on earth. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there is a well-known line that says, “To thine own self be true.” That is, be yourself; be true to yourself; do not engage in self-deception. Don't put a mask on each morning.

Remember, when someone else deceives me it is without my consent; but when I deceive myself it is with my knowledgeable permission.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Jeremiah and Paul Had in Common

God challenged Jeremiah, saying, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." And over six-hundred years later, Paul wrote, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Each of these men had two things in common: Firstly, both were shut-up, shut-in, and shut-out from any type of outward ministry. They were placed in impossible situations. And secondly, this twosome believed there was no restraint on God's part in such dire conditions, no matter how impossible it might seem!

I read a little pamphlet years by a hyper-dispensationalist, who said the only prayer promise today for the Gentile Christian, in the Church age, is Philippians 4:6-7. We are, said he, to simply make our request known to God, and not to necessarily expect an answer to our petitions. Answers to specific prayers were to the Jewish Nation alone. But this is not what Paul taught his Gentile converts. Listen to him as he enlightens and encourages believers at Rome: "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also." 

Those early New Testament Christians would have joined us, I'm sure, in singing, "It is no secret what God can do; what He's done for others He'll do for you." Part of that faith that pleases God is believing He answers prayer, not just hears it. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." The Psalmist tells us, "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them."

And He will us also, dear ones! For their God is our God.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thoughts On God's Blessed Man From Psalm One

The following notes are from my recent devotional study of Psalms 1:1-3 on God's Blessed Man (or Woman). Hope they will lift you spiritually as they did, and do, me.

Introduction to the Book of Psalms. 

Psalms is the Praise and Hymn book of the Bible. Hence, Let us praise Him in song. The word Praise is found over 150 times in the 150 Psalms. It's the hymn book of the Jewish Nation; also it was used by the early Church as such (1Cor.14:26; Eph.5:19; Col.3:16.

Luther said, "It is the Little Bible";  and Jerome: "It's the Bible within the Bible."

There are 150 Psalms, 2,461 verses, and 43,743 words. (KJV)

Psalms covers a full range of emotions; therefore, there is a Psalm for every condition.

Psalm 1:1-3
(1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

Comments.
  
  1. In verses 1-3 we have the second Adam depicted. In verses 4-6, the first Adam.

  2. The Man Christ Jesus is the "Blessed Man."

  3. God wants to bless our lives, but we must be blessable. (Warren Wiersbe).

  4. The man of the world walks, stands, and sits; whereas, the man of the Word sits, stands, and walks. Our stand and walk is a result of where we're seated. "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." We are always to begin from our sitting position! Like Mary, from a resting posture. 

  5. When Peter fell he: "followed afar off" (walketh)"stood at the fire" (standeth)"sat down among them" (sitteth). 

  6. The blessed man walks, not in the council of the ungodly, but after His (God's) commandments.

  7. David delighted being "in" the law, not "under" it.

  8. David only had the 5 books of the Law to delight in; we have 66.

  9. God's Word is his meditation, not only throughout the day, but during the night season. "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word."

10. This tree by the rivers of water was not wild. It was put there by God, chosen and placed there on purpose by His good pleasure. If it's not of God's planting, it will be rooted up.

11. "Rivers," not river of water; those blessed of God are not dependent upon one source. We, like the tree roots saturated with the waters, are to be soaked in the scriptures.

12. A precious cross-reference on the power of the Word in our lives is in Job 14:7-9.

13. Isaiah speaks of the blessed man and these rivers of water. "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land"; (See also John 7:38). Has my life gone dry? "for the rivers of waters are dried up." (Joel 1:20) 

14. Our fruit is seasonal, but our leaf is continual. God's blessed man (or woman) is an evergreen tree. You can always find shade under their leaf, no matter how hot things get. And there is never any fear it will disappear as Jonah's.

15. He may not prosper materially but he or she will always prosper spiritually; compare verse 3 with Joshua 1:8.

16. The sad conclusion for the man or woman of the world is in verse 4, "The ungodly are not so." Poor carnal souls, it just ain't so with them, says the Lord.

My prayer is that the Good Lord will bless these thoughts to your head, heart, and soul. AMEN and AMEN! (rds)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In Christ

The words “In Christ” are distinctively Pauline. The term is used just one other time apart from his writings, and that is in Peter’s first epistle, proving again the old adage, “The exception only proves the rule.” Remember Peter read Paul's writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Christian’s that when they believed, the Holy Spirit baptized them into the mystical body of Christ. That is, they were immersed in Him, as in a burial. They were completely covered.

Stop for a moment and think of all the treasures you found when you were put into Christ. Eternal life, joy, peace, contentment, are not even a fraction of the things we discovered, when we were placed “In Christ.” But the surprise of all surprises was in finding one blessing that dwarfed all others, no matter how rich and wonderful they may be.

Not only do we find in scripture that we are “In Christ,” but that “God was in Christ.” Imagine, walking through the door of a plain looking Tabernacle made of skins, and finding the Shekinah Glory of God! O, just think of it; we walked through “The Door” and found God Almighty waiting to fellowship with the likes of us. Hallelujah!