Monday, August 31, 2015

A Marvelous Meal From Meager Means

My wife belongs to that elite remnant, but vanishing breed of women, who bear the indelible marks of an old-fashioned country girl. One characteristic is, she can take a few scanty things of this and that's and make a meal for her entire family. I've seen this extraordinary feat preformed on more than one occasion, especially in our younger days; our four grown children can attest to this fact.

Our blessed Lord, in a much greater way, prepared miraculous meals for the multitudes. But He also did it with it with skimpy things available at the time. We're told He took "a few little fishes," and seven loaves and fed four-thousand men, beside women and children. And this was not an isolated case. Most certainly, we can understand the song writer's mind when he wrote, "Little is much, when God is in it."

I doubt whoever caught those "few little fish" and the "few small fish" had any idea what a blessing his or her limited contribution would mean to so many hungry people! I'll just bet you, after Jesus blessed and multiplied their meager gifts, they were glad they didn't throw the little fish back in with the smaller ones. Let none of us be among those, "who hath despised the day of small things."  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Slow and Sudden Will of God

"And, behold, I send the promise... upon you: but tarry ye...until...And suddenly there came..." 

I find the Will of God to be a strange phenomenon. You may wait days, weeks, months and even sometimes years for it to come to pass. But when the time comes for its accomplishment, things move rapidly, as they say, so fast it will make your head swim. 

Two scriptures has always been a particular blessing to me concerning this truth, one promise is directly to Abraham, the second is addressed to all believers. "And so, after he (Abraham) had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." Then the writer addresses all of God's elect: "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." 

The slow and suddenness of God's Will is seen throughout the Bible. For example, Israel waited over 400 years for God to fulfill His promise of deliverance; but when the night finally came, we read, "...with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and... in haste." In another place we're told although God's people cry day and night unto Him, and He bears long with them, when He does answer, it will be speedily.

"...though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Every Which Way

The little idiom, "every which way," can certainly be used properly when applied to the learning process. That is, there are various approaches to the subject. One can learn by instruction, experience, or choose not to learn at all. I refer to them as the easy way, the hard way, and no way. 

It is a popular saying, but an incorrect one, that experience is the best teacher. NO! Instruction is the best educator. Ask the little boy who laid his hand on a red-hot stove after being told what the results would be. Sorry to say, most of us go the little urchin's route, and we have the scars to prove it.

The wise man wrote both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the former being the book of instruction, the latter, the book of experience. This man of wisdom had tried them both and repeatedly tells us in the first book (Proverbs), instruction far outweighs the painful way of the second.

Timothy is a good Bible illustration of learning from instruction. He didn't have to carry any regretful scars through life. Simon Peter, on the other hand, learned the hard way from a rough and tough teacher: experience. And as a result, although freely forgiven, carried a marked-up life to his grave.

I would be amiss in not mentioning the fact, some never learn at all, whether it be instruction or experience. Pharaoh, for example, was both instructed and had humiliating experiences, yet never learned a thing. What a pitiful portrait of a human being!    

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That Old Serpent

"And the great dragon...that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world..was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone...and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

When the old-time evangelist, Billy Sunday, was asked if he believed in a literal devil, personified in one person, he answered, "I sure do, I've done business with him." He went on to say, "If there is no devil, who is behind all the devilment in the world?" From Genesis to this last book of the Bible, all Bible Christians believed in a real, literal devil. Like Billy Sunday, many of them had up-close and personal dealings with him. He tempted Jesus face to face and was constantly punching Paul around.

John the Beloved refers to Satan as, "That old serpent," on two different occasions in Revelation. He is the only writer in scripture to use this term. Tradition tells us John was an old man at this writing, in his nineties, no less. Interestingly he calls his, and our, arch enemy, "Old." At this writing the apostle traces the serpent back four-thousand years, to the Garden of Eden and the Fall. We can follow that slimey path of heartache and destruction back over six-thousand years of human history. 

Thank God, we're told there is coming a day, soon I pray, when all evil will be destroyed permanently from the universe! And while Satan and his cronies are suffering the torments of the damned forever and ever, we, the children of God will be experiencing eternal bliss with the KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS, and Lover of our souls! They have a place prepared for them and so do we: in the arms of God. 

Some of you might want to try what I do when I am severely
tempted. On the authority of the Word of God I remind Satan and all the evil spirits that may be involved in my sifting at the time, of their future eternal incarceration and suffering, and of my joy, both now and forever, with my Father!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

HOW TO PRAY

On Kindle search, I brought up How to Pray. They listed 575 books on this subject alone. I'm sure most of the authors are well intentioned, like myself. But I'm just as convinced, after one reads each book, they'll find a vast number of ways given in accomplishing this most important feat. Because of this, many of us common Christians can sometimes be more hurt than helped. To the sincere seeker, all these different voices can be confusing. Like on so many other important subjects, our hearts cry out "Who's right?" 

Most certainly, on many important doctrines there is not a multiplicity of ways but one, and one way only, salvation for example. But this does not hold true on other subjects, such as witnessing, giving, administration, etc. There are a number of ways these can be approached and accomplished, each with God's blessing upon them, if done with the right motive. 

And so it is when we come to the subject of how to pray. We need to keep in mind, each of us have different temperaments and come from a variety of religious backgrounds. And also, whether we like it or not, the intellect enters into this equation. All these things flavor how we do many things in our Christian life, and especially is this true of how we pray. For example, the Cornish preacher, Billy Bray, the uncouth and unlearned converted coal-miner, would not pray like the learned and cultured English pastor and theologian, Doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Yet both were used of God! 

The bottom line is this: read all the books on how to pray you'd like, not for emulation, but rather for education. After I read books on our subject, I always say to myself at the end, "PRAY AS YOU CAN AND DON"T TRY TO PRAY AS YOU CAN't." (J.I. Packer)     

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Do Something!

"And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me...She hath done what she could." So says our Lord of those who attempt to do anything for Him, whether small or great. He defends and commends any and all who do so. Whatever is done for Him, in His name, does not go unnoticed in Heaven. Even the most menial ministries   are not wasted, if done on and for Him.

Through the years there have been some of God's choicest saints who have helped us but, because of the circumstances of life, it was not in the way they would have liked. I always send them a note of thanks with the following scripture quotation:
"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."  

We can all do something. Most of us are called to keep our brethren on the firing line. I just watched the western, "Crossfire Trail" again. At the conclusion there is an exciting showdown. There is a older couple, proprietors  of the town store, who watched from the sidelines. Finally the storekeeper took rifles and ammo to the good guys. In doing so, the old man was wounded in the leg. At the end, as his wife was helping him up, he said, "We did something, Melissa!" To which she answered, "Yes we did."

May God help each of us to remember when doing something for God and His kingdom, "Something is better than nothing."  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Wonder of the Worm

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob...I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains..” (Isa. 41:14-15). What a way with words the Word has! God takes a delicate worm and makes it into an instrument with teeth. This impotent worm becomes a terror to its terrorist enemies. It is now one that can break, but cannot be broken. Such is the contrast.

God can take the weakest and endow them with Divine strength so that they leave a noble mark upon their generation. Behold the wonder of the worm: so low, so little, so weak, so defenseless, so despised, trampled under the feet of others. When God Almighty picks up this creature of the dust to use as one of His Divine tools, none can withstand this weak worm.

Jacob’s King (Jesus) calls Himself, “a worm and no man.” How we worms should take heart at the thought that our God is the God of the worm.

“Thou shalt thresh the mountains...” No matter how big the circumstances, the highest, strongest, and most stubborn of difficulties will be cut through by this weak instrument of iron.

“Fear not, thou worm..I will help thee, saith the Lord...”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

No Excuse For Not Making It

“Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.” Joseph is sending his brethren to his and their father. They are in a strange land, and the journey will be long and difficult. So he gives them ample provisions for the way.

It takes little spiritual insight to apply this to God’s children today. As we travel this foreign land on our way home to the Father, our Elder Brother has provided us with everything we’ll need to make a successful journey. We can make it safely to our Father’s House. There is no excuse arriving home, like the prodigal, undernourished and penniless.

We have the Bible to instruct us (11Tim.3:16); the Holy Spirit to empower us (Zach. 4:6); the Blood of Christ to cleanse us (1Jn.1:70; the Church to ground us (1Tim.3:15); the brethren to encourage us (Acts 28:15); the armour of God to protect us (Eph.6:11-18); and the Grace of God to sustain us (11Cor.12:9). Tell me again the reason you don’t think you can finish your course with joy!


“Who would mind the journey if the road leads home.” 
(Song)

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Judgement Seat of Christ

When I was younger, I could tell you all about God's judgement of His children. But now that I'm an old disciple, and had the air let out of my balloon more times than I 'd like to admit, I'm not so sure on all the particulars. One thing I do firmly believe is that motive will play a great part in this awesome time of our accounting to the Lord. 

God's smile will not go exclusively to those who accomplished much for His Kingdom, but also those of us who would have but could not, (because of God's plan for our lives). You see, God knows what we would have done if we could have done it! Intent plays a  major part in God's judgement of a person!

An example of this is David. He wanted to build the Temple for God, but because he was a man of war, it was given to his son Solomon, a man of peace. Yet God told David, "Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart (motive)."

Had I my own way, I would have lived and died in China as a missionary. I've prayed for that people regularly for 56 long years. I like to think, at the judgement bar, God will summon some people around me, and just maybe, with a little squint to their eyes and a smile on their faces, they will say, "Thank you brother!" 

Or possibly in their tongue, 谢谢哥哥. No matter, one way or the other, IT WILL HAVE BEEN WORTH IT ALL!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spilt Milk

Note: Seven years ago I wrote this article. It is also the title and part of my first book. For some reason I have a very strong impression to post it today.

rds

"We...are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again." So says the wise woman to King David. How many of us try to undue things that the past has already absorbed. There are two kinds of problems: those we can do something about, and the ones beyond our control. We are to concern ourselves with the first and leave the second alone.

Some spend a lifetime crying over spilt milk, not realizing that in many cases, the milk was spoiled. There are times in our lives when God is responsible for turning over the glass and not we ourselves. Therefore, our disappointments can be, in reality, His-appointments. In God's infinite wisdom and love, rather than letting something sour enter into our lives, He prevents us from tasting of it. We do not know sweet milk from the sour, but He does.

One thing is for sure; whether it is God or we who spills the milk, there is nothing we can do once it's done. The wisest thing is to go on with our lives. After all, there are other glasses of milk that will not be spilled, and we can enjoy them.

Don't cry over spilt milk; your Father will pour you another glass.

THANKS!

Dear Readers,

Just a line to say, "THANKS!" I appreciate so much your prayers and support. But what struck me while praying for you today was your notes of encouragement; sent from time to time. They keep me wanting to feed you full. 

Love in the Lovely Lamb,

rds

"...a word spoken in due season, how good is it!" 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Blame Enough to go Around

"...ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy." 

About 50,000 Jews returned to their homeland from their seventy-year captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had completely destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and all the temple furniture. The first thing the remnant did was rebuild the altar for worship. Then came the laying of the foundation of the new Temple, of which our text speaks. We're told the younger generation, who had not seen the first Temple, "...shouted aloud for joy." And that the older ones who remembered the grandeur and glory of the first, "wept with a loud voice." For in their days, the Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world. And this new Temple fell short of the one in their day.

It is possible to get trapped in the "good old days" of the past and miss what God is doing today. On the other hand, we can get caught up in all trendy modern methods of today and fail to see what great things God did for our fathers in the past, which is for our learning. We can be haunted by the past or haughty in the present. But it is possible for each to learn from the other! The "shouters" and the "weepers" can unite if each will give a little. It is easy to err on either side of the issue. Those who looked back failed to move forward, and the others, excited about what God was doing now, didn't follow through with the work. They left it for some fifteen years. Both squandered the opportunities the Lord had given them. 

The "ancients," like some of us older folks today, evidently forgot it was the sins of their generation that brought about the fall of the Kingdom to begin with. Plus, although the present Temple was not as great as the first, God promises, “The glory of this latter house will be greater than the former.” God fulfilled Haggai's prophecy, for it was in this Temple that our blessed Lord Jesus walked in His day. This should be a lesson to all of us elderly, and a blessing, encouragement, and challenge to a younger generation.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Characteristics Christians Should Cultivate

To my readers: The following is from a sermon series, God in His grace, mightily used over these many years. 

1. Learn to blame yourself.

2. Finish the job.

3. You are either master or mastered.

4. Do right at all times.

5. Take care of little things.

6. Cultivate a spirit of gratitude.

7. Learn to say, "no."

8. Function according to your ability.

9. Do best at what you dislike most

10. Keep getting up.

11. Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones.

12. You can do what you ought to do.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Discarded Faith

We saints, for the most part, have abandoned personal faith for a public one. What I mean is this: we'd rather publicly display before others a faith that removes mountains, rather than a faith, in secret, that removes minuses in our lives. 

David killed a lion and a bear in private before defeating a giant openly. We attempt to master any and all visible things in life, except those pertaining to self and our closet. We need to learn to walk on land before we trying to walk on water.

If you're familiar with Paul's writings, you are aware of the fact, he primarily stresses an inward faith that subdues personal (fleshly) desires that are harmful to us, both spiritually and physically. He is not a big advocate of a "fanfare faith," so to speak. 

Samson, we're told in Hebrews, was a man of faith. But it only involved the external, not the important internal things in his life. He was like the wise man in Ecclesiastes, "And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them." The man who carried the bars of the gate to the city on his shoulders, was held captive with the bars of sin around his soul!  

A wholesome faith is one that believes Romans six and has crucified by faith unhealthy and sinful appetites, both in their spiritual and physical lives! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Power of Right Words

"How forcible are right words!" Nowhere, I believe, is this truth more authenticated than when a child of God speaks a word of encouragement to a downtrodden brother or sister. How often have I seen, like the sun-flower, the drooping head of a saint lift his or her face to the "Son" again, after a cheerful word of optimism from the Bible.

People are not soon to forget the encouragers who have crossed their paths in life. I know in my own case I can go all the way back fifty-six years ago to that first precious saint who said to a young preacher boy, "You keep going, Brother Richard, don't give up. God's going to use you mightily!" That was a word, as Isaiah puts it, spoken in season to him that [was] weary. 


One of the greatest and most lasting things Moses ever did is little spoken of, if at all. It concerns a young man who had a gigantic task before him, "But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him." This "old man," Moses, accomplished some great things in his life, but none I imagine as great as this. I wonder how often Joshua, in his life, thought back to it.

Why not start today to look for some downcast soul and speak a good word to them?


"A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!"

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Wisdom of the Wise

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. " I like to say the New Testament is naked truths and the Old Testament the wardrobe by which they're clothed.

Solomon's a perfect example of this. God gave him opportunity to ask whatever he would and it would be granted. Instead of putting his desires first, he gave God's interests top priority in his life. And as a result, got not only what he requested, but was granted all the things he gave up for God. We need to learn, "things" are additives for putting God first in our lives!

That great and blessed singer, Bev Shea, gave up an operatic career
for singing gospel for his Lord. The rest you know; it's well known history. He has a testimony akin to that of David: "[I] have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth." In both Bible and Church history, God honors them that honor Him!

C.S. Lewis says, "When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased." He also said, "To put second things first, you lose both!"  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Those New Worship Songs

A few months ago, I was searching the Web for Fundamental and Evangelical churches in our area. I came across one strict Fundamentalist who advertised: "No worship team!; No worship leader!; No worship band!; No worship songs!" I thought to myself, "Yes, and I just bet, no worship!"

I am not attempting to convince or sway anyone on either side of this controversy. I will say that both contemporary and traditional have much to be desired in some of their music. I've heard cheap, shallow songs, from both sides. On all issues, be careful you do not throw out the baby with the wash. The truth is, some of our modern-day worship songs glorify God as much as the old ones do.

I have found through the years most who argue for their side, are unfamiliar with the contrasting side. In a meeting, years ago, my wife sang the song, "Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy." Afterward, a lady approached her and said, "Don't get me wrong, dear, I love your singing, but I really like the 'old' songs better." The song was first published in 1759.

I wonder if some who just like the old, will be happy in heaven? We are told in Revelation, "And they sing the song of Moses." That's about as old-timey as one can get. But John also tells us, "And they sung a new song." Jesus tells us in God's Kingdom there is both old and new. 

It is profitable for all to remember, everything was new at one time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Overwhelmed By the Bible

There are those in this life who cannot do anything half-way. Whatever it is,has to be done 100%. They (we) must jump in with both feet. There can be no middle ground. This can be admirable and at the same time, if not checked, cause one to be miserable. 

This is true as it relates to the Bible. The "all-or-nothing" kind of Christian soon finds the Bible to be overwhelming. They can't stay up with it; they are always lagging behind. There is no catching up, as it were. Its vastness, length, depth,width, height, and commands are too much for them to master.

They do not realize God never intended for His people to swallow the whole bail of hay at one time, so to speak. He gave the Manna daily, in fact He gave them opportunity to rest one day. We need to heed the words of the wise man, "Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

God's commandments are exceedingly broad, He gives us elbow room. You know, He gives "wiggle-room." His commandments are not grievous; His yoke is easy. He remembers we are but dust, and at our very best are vanity. He knows what we would do if we could do it, if it were not for this weak flesh! Willing but weak, says the scripture.

Therefore, as to keeping His Word, it is generally my habit to concern myself with obeying it at any given moment. That is, how it relates to what I'm doing and where I'm at, at the present. Like an instruction manual, I take it a step at a time. In other words, I DO THE NEXT THING!

" When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Don't Forget to Remember

"Yea, they...limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them."
Psalm seventy-eight is all about God's people forgetting to remember. It is a brief history of God's marvelous works in the life of His people. For example, the opening of the Red Sea; who could ever forget that great momentous event? Yet these sad words are recorded of God's elect, "The waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left...They soon forgat His works." Let us not be too hard on them, we are their offspring. Just as the butler forgot all the good Joseph had done toward him, so do we forget the wonderful things God has accomplished in our lives. We have such short memories! We need to put a sign on our prayer closet door to be read before entering: "Lest I forget."  

There is a general principle found throughout the Bible, whenever God is getting ready to do some great thing on behalf of His saints, He reminds them of past experiences. God, speaking to His children says, "am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." Jesus taught His disciples this truth. Although He had fed the multitudes on two separate occasions, they had evidently soon forgotten these miracles. "O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not...remember the five loaves of the five thousand...Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand?" Notice, our faith shrinks when we forget to remember. 

I think it would do all of us good to take some time each day in our devotions reflecting upon the great things God has done in our past, in answer to prayer.