Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Whose Side is God On?

"Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come."

Joshua found out something some of us die-hard's are still slow to comprehend and accept: God is on no one's side! Only in respect to our choosing God's side can it be said, "He is on our side." When David said, "The Lord is on my side," it was only because he picked that side. And when he wrote, God is for me, again, it was because he was for God. God did not side with, or was He for David in his sin.

God is not a Democrat or Republican; He is nether a
Fundamentalist or Evangelical; nor is He Conservative or 
Liberal, GOD IS GOD! The question is not, "Is God on our side," but rather, "Are we on God's side?" Moses put it very plainly, "Who is on the Lord's side?" The real question each of us must ask ourselves in this God-hating, God-defying, God-dishonoring world is, "Am I on God's side?"

If our answer to this question is in the negative, then we would be wise to heed Gamaliel's words to the council in Acts, "If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." To be on any side that opposes God is ultimately a losing battle. God always wins out in the end. Read the book of Revelation if you doubt me. No matter how it may look at any given time, victory is on the way.

I love the story of the little-leaguer, who was all hustle, in spite of his team being behind 23 to 0. Asked why he could be so upbeat he replied, "Shucks, Mister, we ain't even been up to bat yet!" THAT'S MY KIND OF KID!   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Stay Out of That Mess

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” No spiritually enlightened Christian would deny this world is in one tangled up mess. And, furthermore, it is no surprise to them. But, what is a shock is the fact that so many of God’s people are enmeshed in this miserable mix-up. Once these cares entwine a believer, their spiritual life will be choked out of them. So says our Lord.

What is the cure for not being caught in this web of the world’s cares? Simple; it’s found in pleasing Him who chose us. We are to be absorbed with Him. This, says Jesus, is the one thing that is needful. Then the Caretaker will take care of the cares.

All the things of this world are geared to divert our attention from Him. This is true both in the social, political, and many times, religious realms. Nothing in this life really counts if it is not directly associated with Christ. And those things that do are to be approached through Him, not apart from Him

Satan’s goal, like Pharaoh’s of old, is to get God’s elect entangled in the land.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Daniel and the Law of the Land

"Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God."

At this time in Daniel's life he was in his eighties. Even so, the old man was a threat to the crooked politicians of his day. He had a reputation for honesty; all knew him to be a man of integrity, even his enemies. We are told by the Holy Spirit, "He had an excellent spirit." And believe me, He knew! 

These one-hundred and twenty political assassins knew it was useless to attack his impeccable character, so instead, they went after his faith. They passed a law that went directly against his God-given scriptural convictions. They knew well that he would not do wrong, but they were also aware, he would always do right concerning his God. And it is this latter fact with which they hoped to bring him down. 

John Gill writes in his commentary, "If therefore they could get an act passed, and signed by the king, which would any ways affect his religion, or any branch of it, or prohibit the performance of it for any time, they hoped to get an advantage of him, knowing that he would not on any consideration forsake or neglect that; which being said by his enemies was greatly to his honour."

What is one to do when the law of the land conflicts with the Law of God? It is plain throughout the Bible. As the early Believers told the authorities of their day when they were ordered to submit to laws contrary to their faith, "We ought to obey God rather than men."  And this they did, even at the expense of bodily suffering. 

And so it was with Daniel. He continued doing what he had always done in spite of the unscriptural law of the land. It could be said of him, as David wrote of the righteous man in Psalm 37, "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide."  

 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Rock in a Flowerpot

Is character an acquired thing or something possessed from birth? Or is it a little of both? Some people seem to be sadly deficient, if not completely void, of any and all character. It’s like they’ve never had any, nor will they have! Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “The only thing worse than having little character, is having no character at all.” 

I remember reading years ago something F. B. Meyer said about Esau and Jacob. He wrote, "In many respects, Esau had qualities that would have endeared him to us. For example, his affection for his father, his forgiveness toward his brother who had wronged him, as well as his manliness. All traits that are admired by principled people. And what of Jacob? Well, anyone familiar with his life up to this time would have to admit, it left much to be desired. Yet, this undesirable desired God’s blessings, while his brother was a “slave to his senses.” He went on to say, "Esau's type of character would never have changed, no matter what." He gave an illustration of putting a rock in a flower pot. It could be buried in good fertilized soil, watered constantly, and watched over with tender care, but it would never change; it would always remain the same. In such cases, prayer, time, expense, and concern doesn't even bring an encouraging bud of hope.

The mystery of all mysteries is how people can be born and brought up with everything against them, yet they blossom into something beautiful. On the other hand, I have seen individuals that had every advantage life could afford them, good parentage, education, and environment, yet remained dormant. After a lifetime, there is not one redeeming quality they display. How sad to have lived and died and left nothing of substance but one’s ashes! I’d love to be wrong on my assessment of some of these people, but experience has not left me with much hope. I wish it were not so, but it is a fact of life. And to deny it will only bring frustration as you water the rock in the flower pot.

Wonder of wonders: how a godly king, as Hezekiah, could produce a wicked, wicked son as Manasseh. And Amon, an ungodly king, could father a righteous and godly son as Josiah.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reformation or Revival, Which?

To put it simply, revival deals first and foremost with the internal, reformation with the external. The former begins in the heart and works its way out; the latter never gets past the first layer of skin. George MacDonald writes, “Nothing is so deadening to the divine as a habitual dealing with the outside of holy things.”

What today’s “religious moralist” wants is an outward religious and political change, not an inward conversion. Reformation is merely a demon leaving his house briefly, while a new coat of paint is being put on the exterior of things, only to return to it with seven of his worst kind of friends. Reformation has to do with respectability, revival with nobility. Dry-rot on the inside doesn’t concern the moralist.

I am not an authority on revival, but I did spend the biggest part of a fifty-plus year ministry as an evangelist and in revival work. I got in on the afterglow of the forties revival, which was simmering and went out in the fifties. God allowed me to see enough in my meetings to cause me to thirst after a real revival. I’ve seen people pass out and have to be carried to an altar. On numerous occasions there have been four hour invitations, which I did not give, where the people just wanted to repent and worship God. I’ve seen a Lutheran pastor tear his collar off and cry out for God to save him.  There was a youth camp where the youth would wake at three in the morning screaming for God to have mercy. In one large church, so many were getting right that they had to use the restrooms for inquiry rooms, because all the Sunday School rooms were filled  There were many, many more experiences like these, but I trust these will suffice to prove my point.

Yes, many good people long for revival and are praying for one, but on their conditions. And that is why revival will never come to them. Let’s face it; a Bible revival would scare the majority of today’s Christians half to death. It would reach far beyond their elitist group, and things would happen that their human reasoning could not explain. And may I add this note to many of you pastors; you can’t have revival without revival preaching. It seems to me when the evangelists were kicked out of the pulpits of America, revival went with them. May God have mercy! My Bible still says, “And He gave some…evangelists.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's Time to Move On

"Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount...Ye have compassed this mountain long enough"

In the fifth book of Moses, in the first few chapters, he recounts and reminds God's elect of their past history. As another has written, "He gives a short account of their long stay in the wilderness." One of the things he brings to memory is the time spent at the holy Mount. "Many days," which added up to just two weeks short of a year. During this time they received the giving of the Law, the Tabernacle and the things pertaining to it were made by them, and both civil and ecclesiastical rulers were appointed. He also calls to their recollection how after these things were accomplished, God had told them, so to speak, to get a move on.

God also has temporary earthly stops as we journey toward our heavenly Mount Zion. But we are in danger of becoming satisfied and overstaying our visits at some of these memorial places. We are to always keep in mind there is something even better up ahead. This is what the book of Hebrews is all about, something better. Is it any wonder then that the writer continually admonishes his readers with, "Let us go on." We, like them, if not careful, are at risk of,
"coming short," of our Kadesh-Barnea. The life-giving, life-satisfying, and life-energizing fruit of the Spirit is awaiting each of God's children who move forward in their Christian life, not those who stand still. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Close Enough to Hear

The late Harry A. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church, tells the following story. It seems he needed a specific amount of money by the next day. He said the Lord had given confidence to claim and expect the exact amount for the succeeding day. And sure enough, it arrived by mail right on time. But, he thought, wouldn’t it have arrived anyway, had I not prayed? For the letter had been post marked three days previous. True, the Lord seemed to say, but isn’t it nice to be conscious of the fact you’re close enough to me to know what I’m about to do?

As Samuel of old, I believe God still speaks in the ear of His obedient ones, concerning things He already has in play (1 Sam. 9:15). I don’t want to be in hollering distance; I want to ever be within whispering distance (1 Kgs. 19:12). I long for my relationship with God to be up close and personal. I’d like for Him to say of me what He said of Abraham, “And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” You might remember, when the disciples wanted to know what was going on, they asked the one leaning on Jesus’ bosom, the one near to the heart of God!

Addendum: As most of our readers know, humanly speaking, we live on a very limited income. Yesterday, before leaving for church (an hour away) I checked my wallet to make sure I had gas and lunch money. I had $120. The Lord impressed on my heart to put all in the offering when it passed. The same burden was there at church. So I obeyed. I whispered to my wife what I had done. I told her to watch and see what the Lord was going to do in the next couple of days. Today, Monday, a dear friend wrote that he had come into some extra cash and wanted to share it with us. It was nearly three times the amount I had put into the offering. Is Luke 6:38 true or what!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

God's Echo

“Abraham, Abraham”; “Isaac, Isaac”; “Jacob, Jacob”—were these men, along with others, so hard of hearing that God had to repeat their names when speaking to them? No, God has a purpose in everything He does, and there is a Divine lesson for us in this repetition.

Since the Bible is its own best interpreter, we’ll allow it to give us the answer. Joseph, speaking to Pharaoh about his dream, explained, “And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God...” Both in the Old and New Testament, we find there is to be at least two witnesses to the truth. No doubt, this is why A.W. Tozer said, “Truth has two wings.”

Jesus taught this when He made the statement, “It is written," then added, “It is written again.” Paul also followed this pattern. For example, in Romans he says, “It is written," then follows this up by saying, “And again he [God] saith...”

Today, if you need Heaven’s confirmation as to the right or wrong of a thing, or if there is a decision you have made and need that final stamp of God’s approval, then listen, or watch, for it. It will come. When it’s from God, it will always have an identical twin.

“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this...(Psl.62:11,a).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Fallible Fathers

Every godly father longs for and desires a happy household. But, for one reason or another, this is not always the case. Sometimes the reason is apparent; at other times, it’s a mystery. How could God’s first two children disgrace their heavenly Father? And years after, God says of Israel, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” You certainly couldn’t blame the Father in these cases.

In 2 Samuel, chapter twenty-three, we have, “...the last words of David.” We are told how God anointed and raised him up on high, and that he was the “...sweet Psalmist.” David was a good and godly man; yet he had his share, along with many other greats, of family trouble. For example, his wife, Michal, became a snare to him, and one of his sons, Absalom, caused him humiliating embarrassment. Certainly, all of this must have been heart-breaking to this melancholy man of God.

Yet, in spite of his family troubles, he looks past the veil of tears and remembers God’s eternal promise. In verse five he says,
“Although my house be not so with God; yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant.” Its been said, "When we suffer in time, we can find solace in eternity."

The blessings of God the Father are upon godly fathers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Most Devastating Truth

"Jesus said unto [Peter]...thou shalt deny me...Peter said unto Him...I will not deny thee..."

I personally believe the most devastating fact we as saints will ever have to face and admit to is, as my dear mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins would say, "We are never as spiritual as we think we are." We are not who people say we are; we are not who we think we are; we are who God knows we are. We say, "If I know my own heart," but the problem is, none of us do! There is a deceiver within it. Only a self-righteous fool will trust his or her own carnal heart. 

Peter's problem is ours. He thought himself incapable of committing the ugly things of which others were. Like the Pharisee in the Temple, he thought he was a notch above the low man on the totem pole. In my long experience in dealing with God's people, I find few Believers have come to the realization that they are capable of anything and everything Bible saints were. The one sure proof is when you hear them say, "How could they do that? I could never do such a thing."

Any time we get outside God's hedge of Divine protection, we are open to the serpent's deadly bite. "...whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him."      

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Old Man's Advice

If I could give advice to any preacher, teacher, writer, or witness; along with Christians in general, it would be, “Make much of Jesus.” Make much of Him in all your sermons, songs, testimonies, and praying, as well as your writings (books or letters). I have had to ask God time and again to forgive me for failing to do so.

 As a young believer, I went through Paul’s epistles marking in red all references to Christ. Afterward, I had to buy a new Bible, for the pages I had marked looked as if someone had sprinkled them with fresh blood. Again, read Revelation. No matter how it’s interpreted, there is one thing all will agree upon; Jesus Christ is central. God, angels, beasts, and saints, all without exception, make over Him as none other creature has ever been lauded.

 We write, preach, and discuss such things as the Anti-Christ , the  King James Bible (not King Jesus), election, politics, the deeper life, soul winning, the Church, and a host of others things. But these are not to have the prominent place. Have we not yet learned it is not our “pet doctrines” that impress God? IT IS HIS AND HEAVEN’S “PET” that is to get all the attention. Everyone and everything, no matter how precious or important, is to always line up behind Jesus! The universe, and all that is in it, is to play “second fiddle,” to Jesus Christ.

 “Lord Jesus, Glorify thyself, and do it at my expense. Send me the bill, I’ll pay the price.”  (A.W. Tozer’s prayer)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Throwing in the Towel

“Throwing in the towel” is a term derived from the sport of boxing. The towel was used to wipe sweat from the fighter’s face between rounds. And when it was thought he could no longer fight, it was literally thrown into the ring to concede defeat. Far too many of God’s people are forfeiting their fight by throwing the towel into the ring.

The little “bantam-weight” Paul said at the end of his life-long scrap with the world, the flesh, and the devil: “I have fought a good fight.” Therefore he had every right to admonish his young protégé Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith.”

You may be beaten, bruised, and bleeding, but God and the heavenly host are cheering you on to “stick-in-there.” Keep getting up! Stay down for the count of nine if you must, but make sure you’re back on your feet when the ref says, “ten!” You can wear an enemy down by endurance (Mt.4:11).

Don’t spend your life shadow boxing; don’t beat the air. Get in the ring and fight for something. And don’t you even think of throwing in the towel!

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Captive of Christ

“Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ…” What a statement! Not, a prisoner of Rome or Nero, but Jesus Christ. Paul’s relationship to everything is always expressed in terms of Christ. Every item in his life is tagged, “Christ.” He is “the apostle of Christ,” “the servant of Christ,” “the minister of Christ,” etc. To him Christ was all and in all. He ate, slept, and breathed Christ. He was his life, He was his everything.

Who, in his or her right mind would not want to be His prisoner? The prison garb is the righteousness of God; the daily ration is the sweet Word of God; the bars on the window, and the locked door, are to protect us, not confine us; we are bound to Him with the chain of love; and we are at liberty to do any and all things within the walls of His Will. I have spent most of my adult life as His prisoner, and I can truthfully say, His prison is a palace!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Rooster's Reminder

Adjacent to our mobile home park is a closed-down airport. A few small businesses now occupy the deserted hangers, one of which is a feed store which sells live poultry and other farming needs. On my early morning walks down the once used runway, invariably I'll hear the crow of an old rooster. Each time I hear it, I'm reminded of my childhood visits to my grandparents' home in Kentucky.

I believe Peter had a similar experience each time he heard the crow of a rooster, but without the sweet memories I cherish, his being bitter rather than delightful. That is, except for the fact of his heartfelt repentance and his Lord's merciful forgiveness, which gave him the victory. But still, his glorious restoration did not do away with that awful reminder that popped up from time to time.

Some of us are also reminded periodically of shameful things we have done against our dear Lord in the past. But although, like Peter, we cannot rid ourselves of the reality of those things which remind us, we can deny them the right of recognition. Or as my granny would say, "You can't stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from roosting in your hair."       

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Call to Preach

Fifty-Six years ago tomorrow (Sunday), I was in attendance at the Grace Baptist Church, Middletown, Ohio. It was the church’s anniversary and there were some eight-hundred in attendance. Roy Kemp, from Texas, was the guest speaker. I was standing in the last row of pews singing the invitational song. About the third stanza into the song I whispered to a godly friend standing next to me,  "I think God’s calling me to preach, but I can’t speak before people.” Promptly, he put down his hymnal, and without saying a word, took his Bible and pointed to Exodus 4:10-12, "And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."

I went forward that day, took my pastor’s hand,  looked him in the eye, and said, “God has called me to preach the Gospel.”

Thank you Lord! It's been, to say the least, quite a journey. But no matter the circumstances, Thou hast been with me every step of the way.  

Note to pastors, evangelists, and missionaries: Preach tomorrow as though it were your last sermon!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Key to Our National Problems

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Contrary to many preachers, as well as laymen, the solution to our national problems is not Political, but Spiritual! The former never fixed anything permanently; it’s the same-old, same-old; promises, promises, all we get is promises. I speak from experience; I have lived through thirteen presidencies.

If you read the story of Balaam and his donkey, it is apparent that God locked him in so that he had only one way out of his predicament. This is true also with the Lord’s people today; He puts us in a position where there is no escape except the one of His choosing. We often say in dire times of testing, “All we can do now is pray.” The truth is, that’s all we could ever do. Maybe if we prayed before the crisis like we do after the crisis, we would not have as many crises.

The little plaque says, “Prayer changes things.” But the way many Christians handle national emergencies, they wasted their time putting it up on their wall. Their philosophy seems to be, when all else fails, try prayer. They go from a standing position to a kneeling one; Daniel went from a kneeling one, to that of standing. And believe me; this praying prophet knew what a national crisis was like.

Whether it is Israel or any other nation in history, God blesses them for the sake of His people. Whenever He causes it to rain on the just and their crops, the unjust get in on it. You see, the latter are simply beneficiaries. Therefore, the Spiritual state of the Church is the key of His blessings upon our nation. I would remind each reader of this article of the old, old, gospel song, “It’s not my brother, nor my sister, but me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Everyday should be a National Day of Prayer.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Tables Have Turned

"Elijah mocked them…” We can understand why this loner was referred to as the “troubler.” You’re not to make light of other religions, whether then or now. It matters not that it is false. The world has always expected the Christian to respect wrong, even when it’s evil. And, sad to say, this pitiful philosophy has been swallowed by many believers for fear lest they be branded bigots.

In our inspired narrative, four-hundred religious clowns had been dancing on, or around, the altar from morning till evening. Exhausted from their long prayers, and weak from loss of blood, these pitiful prophets now must endure the taunting of the “troubler.” Elijah utters sixty-three words, and the fire falls. The whole issue of Mt. Carmel was about the God who could answer prayer.

Today, the tables are turned; this lost, religious world is scoffing at God’s people for their lack of getting prayers answered. Modern day Christians have made a pygmy of God, and, as a result of having a miniature God, have become spiritual midgets.

“Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Elisha wanted Elijah’s God. Do we?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

After You've Done All You Can

“…having done all to stand, Stand…” The warrior’s wardrobe consists of seven different items. Paul tells us, after we have put these on, there is no more attire to adorn ourselves with, lest we over dress.

Certainly, there is a great practical truth in this for us all. And that is, when we have done all we know to do, there is no more we should do, lest we overdo it. How many times have I said, in frustration, “I’ve done all I can; I don’t know what more I can do.”

Jesus is always a good example for us. What did He do before facing that difficult time that lay before Him? That time St. John of the Cross calls, “the dark night of the soul”? First, you find Him tying up, as it were, all the loose ends. Then came His prayer of submission to the will of God, and He capped this off by committing all into God’s hands. After these, there was no more said or done. From here on, it would be the providential workings of God.

Dear saint, you can be assured this very day that if you have done all you know to do, then God will do what you cannot. When Israel came to the Red Sea, having done all they knew to do, and unable to do more, Moses’ command was, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

'The' God-Honoring Translation

"The words of the LORD are pure words...Thou shalt keep them (words), O LORD, thou shalt preserve them (words)...for ever." (not His Word, His Word's')

Anyone who is acquainted with me slightly or is the least bit familiar with my writings,  knows my conviction on the Authorized 1611 King James translation. They are also mindful of the fact it is not a bone of contention with me. That is, I do not try to shove it down one's throat, so to speak. I grant to each of my brothers and sisters the right I reserve for myself, to hold to his or her own conviction concerning this sensitive issue. To be sure, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." But you can place a salt-lick before him, making him thirsty. This is what I hope to do with the following quote.

In Robert Boyd's book, World's Bible Handbook, page 244, you will read the following:

"Good taste is sometimes offended at the tone and terms of familiarity used in addressing Deity in public prayer. Many times the wording or terms lack sacredness, as though one is seeking to put God on man's level. It is no "sin" to address the Lord in tones which denote personal relationship, like a child to his earthly father, but too often this is done at the expense of not considering the attributes of a holy and righteous God and the respect and reverence due Him. Genuineness of the soul and prayer from the heart outweigh style and language, but the Psalmist reminds us of a dignity in prayer: "Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight" (19:14).

While the King James Version of the Bible is archaic to many in our day, it does have a dignity about it which modern versions do not - a dignity about it when finite addresses infinite. One of the commendable things the translators of this version did was to put man on his level and God on His level. Man is referred to as "you" when God speaks to him, or when man speaks to man, but never once when man speaks to God. Someone has counted the number of times God or men refer to men, and the "you" count is over 2000 times. But when man address God, he shows reverence by using "Thou" and "Thee" more than 2,800 times. What a contrast! "You" is found once in the dedicatory prayer of the Temple, but God's majesty is recognized by Solomon with the use of the term "Thy" over sixty times (2 Chronicles 6). Jesus referred to man as "you" or "ye," but not once to His Father. The Lord's prayer in John 17 uses "Thine" and "Thou" over forty times. 

It would do the believer good to remember who God is and give the respect due Him. In a world laden with irreverence, devotion and meditation will go a long way in bringing us back to the place where He has the preeminence in our thoughts and in our vocabulary as we address Him."

I once wrote five secular universities addressing the letters to "The Professor of English Literature." I asked each if they thought it would be wise to update the archaic words in Shakespeare? I only heard from one, the professor from Dartmouth. I guess the others thought me some kind of "kook" to ask such an asinine thing. The answer from the one teacher proved this to be so. 

Jesus said, "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."       

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

“The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” The following article is one that my wife came across in one of her college classes, some years ago. I believe we Christians can learn something from it. I know I did.

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open area between the rocks. The students laughed.

He again asked the students if the jar was full, and they again agreed that, yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things—your faith, your family, your health, your friends—anything that is so important to you that if it were lost you would be utterly destroyed.”

“The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale, like your job, your house, your car, etc. The sand is everything else—the small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly more important.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Morning Hour

The Bible has much to say about the morning hour. For example, David's testimony was: "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up"; it is also recorded in Psalms by God's darling, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning...I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning...[I will]shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning." David, like his Lord, and many of the saints in scriptures seems to have been a "morning person."

But in this article I want to call our attention to a text shown me by the Lord years ago. I have never read it that it did not rend my heart and bring tears to my eyes. It concerns the prophet Ezekiel. He tells us, "...at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded." What a principle this dear man of God left each of us to follow! No matter the personal hurts, tragedies, or fears of the previous day, in the morning, "DO THE NEXT THING!" That is, take the next step.

The disciples spent a fruitless night, on the restless sea, but John records, "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore." "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted," know of a surety, at first light, when thy eyelids open from a restless night of sleep, Jesus will be standing close by. A whole new day awaits you, and a miracle might just be thrown in to boot. 

    1. When morning gilds the skies,
      My heart awaking cries:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      Alike at work and prayer,
      To Jesus I repair;
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
    2. Does sadness fill my mind?
      A solace here I find,
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      Or fades my earthly bliss?
      My comfort still is this,
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
    3. When sleep her balm denies,
      My silent spirit sighs,
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      When evil thoughts molest,
      With this I shield my breast:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
    4. The night becomes as day
      When from the heart we say:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      The pow’rs of darkness fear
      When this sweet chant they hear:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
    5. In heav’n’s eternal bliss
      The loveliest strain is this,
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      Let earth, and sea, and sky
      From depth to height reply,
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
    6. Be this, while life is mine,
      My song of love divine:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!
      Sing this eternal song
      Through all the ages long:
      May Jesus Christ be praised!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

He Calls Me His Friend

"I have called you friends."

Three times in scripture Abraham is called God's friend. In 2 Chronicles 20:7, it is recorded, "Abraham 'thy' friend"; James 2:23 tells us, "He was called 'the' friend of God"; but my favorite is in Isaiah 41:7, where God speaks directly of the bond between them, "Abraham 'my' friend." I remember well as a young believer how I longed for and coveted that same intimate relationship, but felt the likes of a worm as myself could never attain unto such a high and privileged position.

But one day I was struck by the fact that in spite of all their shortcomings and failings, He called His disciples His friends. Then realizing too, Abraham, our father and example, came far short of deserving to be called "A friend of God." All of a sudden, at this same time, it dawned upon my dull mind, friendship is based on much deeper things than one's flaws and personal deficiencies. In fact, many of the times, if not most, it is these very faults that cements two souls together. The one seeing the need in the other's life for such a camaraderie .  

And so it was in each of our situations, the Lord knew how desperately we needed a true friend who understood our frailties. I know in my own case, when everyone else was going out, He came in! The song, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" is more than just words to me, it's a living reality. He has proven His friendship to me time and again over these many years. "A friend loveth at all times," means so much to me, especially when I fall into the world's mud hole and have to come before Him all dirty and defiled. 

How I love the line in the children's song, "Jesus loves me when I'm bad, Though it makes Him very sad." There is nothing you or I can do that will ever turn this friend's love from us. 

HALLELUJAH!, He calls us His friends.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

United Prayer

“Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” Paul was no stranger to the throne of grace. Yet he solicited the aid of his brethren in prayer. Time and again in his Epistles the great Apostle pleads for others to assist him in this ministry. Yes, “My help cometh from the LORD...,” but, more often than not, it comes by the way of the sympathetic petitions of prayer partners.

Many today neglect the cooperation of their brethren in prayer to their own detriment. Usually, it’s because of one of three reasons. First, they have not learned the power of united prayer; secondly, pride keeps them from requesting help from other frail believers; and lastly, because a few are tale-bearers of their intimate needs, they choose to tell no one. How we need to learn once we hear of another’s need, it’s to only be from our mouths to God’s ear.

When we humbly solicit the prayerful help of others, we lose our independence in the Body of Christ. And that’s good.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mercy is Not Merit

Everywhere one turns there seems to be a cry for justice, on the plaintiff’s part. That is, getting what they imagine they deserve. But, if we really got our just “ deserts,” as the old camp meeting preacher said, “We’d all be in hell with our backs’ broke!”

We all like to think we have earned something with God, but there are no merit badges in Heaven. We are saints, not scouts. We can’t impress God with the sweaty, meritorious acts we dig up. Ask Cain. No matter how many “souls” one has notched into his or her Bible, our acceptance is still only “…in the beloved.” After all, what can you give someone who has everything?

At Christmas, we speak of giving gifts, but, as my beloved pastor says, it’s actually trading gifts. And, to be sure, God doesn’t trade off His gift of mercy. People who try to merit God’s mercy are always miserable. Simply try asking for it, and don’t sweat it. No person in the Scriptures ever called upon God for His free gift of mercy, who didn’t receive it. If you want verification of this, just inquire of the publican.