Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When God Does His Best Work

It seems to me from reading my Bible for well over half a century now, God does His best work when things are at their worst. Whether a nation, church, family or individual, our Sovereign God likes to wait until “all hope is taken away.” Then He sends one lone man or woman in the midst of the worse of things to say, “Be of good cheer, for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me,” (that is, that everything will be all right).

Whether it be Israel’s long Egyptian bondage; a dying church taking its last breath as in Revelation; a family in the midst of chaotic world conditions as Noah’s; or possibly, a would-be suicide, like the jailer, you can depend on God coming through at the last minute! When the world, the flesh, and the devil have done their worst, you can look for God to do His best! Remember, at the end of the Dark Ages “The Sun of righteousness [arose] with healing in his wings.”

And so it will be with us, my dear ones, after the darkness is past then cometh the light!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Amateur Providences

The title of this article is what Oswald Chambers tags those who meddle in God’s dealings with their loved ones. We make ourselves a man-made shell in their lives to protect them from Divine discomforts. We prevent God from doing His best work in their lives, thereby causing havoc instead of help. Good intentions or not, we, like Peter, become amateur providences when we say, concerning those closest to us, “Be it far from thee…this shall not be unto thee.” To which our Lord answers us, as He did His disciple, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” His will for his darling Son was to suffer, and it may be the same for your darling.

Chambers writes in another place, “You may see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He rebuilds it.” When will we learn, God’s method is always to, “Root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” God goes to the foundation when He begins to build a life again; He doesn’t do patch-work, “He makes all things new.” Allow those dear to you to learn the great truth many of us have: At the end of self is God!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Martha and Mary's Mistake-Ours

"Martha [said] unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died...Then...Mary...[said]... Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."

Commentators are divided on the meaning of these two saintly sisters words; some say it was showing a confidence, others complaining. I believe it could have been a little of each, a display of faith and frailty. It may have been like the father's case, who cried out, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." One thing is for sure, they evidently had forgotten Jesus' presence is not necessary in tough times; He can take care of difficult things from a distance!

Notice, Martha and Mary said the same things to Jesus, because like us, no doubt, they had often discussed it among themselves. Their stupored minds, again like our own, did not yet understand His delays are not denials. When He doesn't immediately give us the best, it's because He is going to eventually give us the better of the best! In the sisters' case, a miracle. What they thought was their loss was, in reality, their gain. It worked for their good, but more importantly, for God and His Son's glory, "This sickness is...for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby,said the Lord Jesus.

The important lesson I personally learned from this is to seek the glory of God first, in any and all situations, and to leave everything else to Him. 

"HE [DOETH] ALL THINGS WELL!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Blessing of Godly Counsel

“Where no council is, the people fall: but in the multitude of councilors there is safety.” Every time in my Christian life I’ve fallen on my face, it has been for one of two reasons: I did not seek godly counsel, or either I did not heed it when given.

We need the input of others. We dare not trust ourselves alone in life’s important decisions, for we are biased toward self. Generally, each of us will take the way of least resistance. You can depend on the flesh to always take the path that benefits itself, even if it is at others’ expense.

They say, “Two heads are better than one,” but that is only true if in seeking counsel the other head is mature and Spiritual. It’s godly counsel that is needed, not the counsel of the ungodly. When we go to the latter we show we’re seeking agreement, not advice. Rehoboam lost everything because he turned his back on the wise council of the old men, and sought that of his sinful young companions.

Both in public and private affairs, wise council makes for good choices. Even the wisest among us are given to blunders. I need not site Solomon, do I? Don’t try to go it alone. Throw your independence and pride out the window and seek out some wise counselors. You’ll be safe in doing so!

In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend. Remember, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Overcoming the Tough Times

Paul, it would seem, went "from victory to victory". What was the main ingredient that took this godly man through all of life's tough times? I believe it was the fact he always kept eternity in view. It was foremost on his mind when dealing with the issues connected with time. That is, he constantly set the one against the other: time and eternity. He lived his life in this world in light of eternity.

Just to give one of many examples of this. In 2 Corinthians four, we read, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." Take a moment and meditate on this verse. You'll find a lot of sweetness in this honeycomb!

We're told in scripture that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." For example, Jesus promised His followers He would return to earth; that was some two thousand years ago. But in God's sight, He only made the promise a little over two days ago. It is well to remember, although God visits us in time, "the high and lofty One...inhabiteth eternity." In our eternal home, no less.

"Eternity is a parenthesis in God's eternal sentence".
(rds)

Ride It Through Friend


Friday, September 18, 2015

You Can't Live Without Miracles

"Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of?" In a previous article, I wrote on the subject, "You Can't Live On Miracles." Today I want to balance out the scale, as it were, and write on, "You Cannot Live Without Miracles." It it true we cannot live 'on' miracles, yet at the same time and just as true, we cannot live 'without' miracles in our lives.

Christianity is a miracle religion, the Founder's birth and bodily resurrection, just to name two, prove this to be true. Also, the saints' new life begins with the miracle of the new birth. And every so often thereafter, the miraculous pops up, so to speak, to enable him or her to accomplish God's plan on earth. No one ever got in on a miracle that was looking for one. They come as we are busy doing the Will of God! A.W. Tozer has an article entitled, "Miracles Follow the Plow."

If we, like Gideon, wonder why there are so few miraculous events occurring in the church today the answer is the same as in the dirt farmer's case. It is, like Israel, because of sin and unbelief. And these two are not compatible with the performance of miracles! 
Interestingly, had Gideon remained in his unbelief, he would never have been mentioned in God's "Hall of Faith," as found in Hebrews chapter eleven.

O, how often through these many years I've had to cry out to my God like the burdened father in the book of Mark, "Lord, I Believe; help thou mine unbelief."

 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Can't Live On Mircles

"And He commanded to give her meat. "Jesus had just preformed a miracle by raising Jairus' daughter from the dead. Immediately thereafter, He charged them to give her something to eat. I searched seven different commentaries for comments on our text, but only two make a brief mention of it. One spiritualized it, applying it to salvation, being raised from from sin and death and feeding on the Word. The second took it literally, saying Jesus was showing her parents she was healthy and completely recovered. If I may, I'd like to add my two-cents, as they say.

I think Jesus was possibly showing us, after He preforms a miracle in our lives we're not to attempt to live on it indefinitely. We are to use everyday means after the miraculous event. That is, after the supernatural has occurred, the natural is to follow. We're to go on with our lives, most certainly with thanksgiving and rejoicing, but living as humans among the sons of men. Just because God does great and mighty things on our behalf, doesn't mean we are great and mighty. Such Divine blessings are not geared to make us strut to God's Throne, but crawl in gratitude to the Mercy Seat of God.

Miracles are the exception in our lives, not the rule. The rule is simply doing our "daily duties," as the priests of the Old Testament.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It Won't Go Away

Most, I’m sure, have experienced trying to remove a stain from
your favorite garment, without success. Neither commercial nor home remedies work. As the prophet tells us, no amount of soap and water will dispose of it. In exasperation we cry out, “It just won’t go away!” No more than putting spot remover on a leopard.

There are some things in our lives we simply need to learn to live with. Wishing, self-helps, and yes, even prayer will not do away with these unwanted indelible marks. After fourteen years of prayer for removable of such, God answers Paul, “You’ll need, by my grace, to learn to live with it.”

Anticipation of  something God has said won’t happen, is like Sisera’s mother continually looking out the window waiting for her son to return home. He was dead; it just wasn’t going to happen!  She, like us, needed to learn to go on with her life along with the hurt. They can co-exist, you know!  

“Sorrow and singing are not incompatible.”
(Oswald Sanders)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Commandments or Consequences

There used to be a program on the “telly” (as the Irish call it) called “Truth or Consequences.” There may be some reruns of it, but, for the most part, it is forgotten. In the Old Testament we have “commandments or consequences,” but these also seem to have passed off the scene, with a possible rerun in a pulpit here and there. The consequence of breaking God’s commandments seems to be of no consequence in the Church today.

It would seem by the way many Christians live, and the preaching that is heard, that God’s moral law is no longer in effect. True, a Christian is no longer under the strict dietary laws and the stringent regulations of the Mosaic Law, but God has never abrogated the Ten Commandments. Are we to believe that the Grace of God has a lower moral standard than the Law? I think not (Tit.2:11-12).

Paul lists each of the Ten Commandments in his grace Epistles (with the exception of the Sabbath, which was replaced by the Lord’s Day). He considers the keeping of them to be the moral marks of a Christian. Let me make it plain; we do not keep them to be saved, or to stay saved, but because we are saved. We are preaching on sins manufactured by man and not plainly spelled out in the Bible. Adultery, lying, dishonoring parents, covetousness, etc, are running rampant in both pulpits and pews, while we concern ourselves with “pseudo-sins”

The Holy Spirit will not convict of a sin that God has not listed as one.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Prolonged Darkness

One of the great paradoxes in scripture is the relationship between God and darkness. For example, we're told He creates darkness (Isa. 45:7); and at the same time says there is no darkness in Him at all (1Jn. 1:5). We generally think of evil when thinking of the dark (Jn. 3:19). Yet the Word tells us there are great treasures and riches to be found in the darkness. Therefore, only by studying the context will it be ascertained which of the two God is speaking.

The Lord is pleased to allow some of His choice children to go through periods of prolonged darkness. Job tells us God set darkness in his paths; and Jeremiah states the Lord had led him into darkness and not into light.The length of time is according to His Sovereign Will. It can last anywhere from long agonizing hours, as in Jesus' case; to days of searching, as in Paul's situation. It can even go into years of waiting, Israel being an example.

There is inestimable profit to be found by God's child when passing through that dark, dark, valley. One of which is hearing the still small voice of our God, "What I tell you in darkness," says He. A second being, what Job describes as, "...discovering the deep things out of  darkness." You'll learn more in the dark times than you ever could when the sun is shining. 

When our children were small, we often played hide-n-seek in the house at night. My greatest thrill was hiding in a walk-in-closet, waiting for one of the little urchins to find me. "And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face...and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs..."   

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Holy Spirit's Power

"Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs"

The essence of the Spirit of God is power, power to witness, to live an overcoming life, to possess a sound mind, etc. Micah testified, "But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD." Any and all saints found in scripture had one predominate characteristic, they were without exception controlled by the Spirit of the Living God. Therefore the question arises, "Am I filled with the Spirit?" 

The assuring personal evidence one is filled with the Spirit is not speaking in tongues! But as Paul tells us in one of his latter letters, a prison epistle; "...but be filled with the Spirit; 
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Do you find yourself quoting the Psalms frequently? Do spiritual songs spring up in your heart regularly? These consistencies are not characteristic of a carnal Christian.

There is much quibbling over the question of how one is filled with the Spirit. Jesus answered this once and for all. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drinkHe that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." 

What do you imagine a Sultan would give, traveling with his vast wealth, for a cup of water after three days without any in Sahara desert? He would give all that he had. And so it is with the Spirit of God. When we desire Him more than all the world, we may have Him. I have a little saying I quote often, "When a person gets serious with God, then He will get serious with that person!" 

"The only hope for a thirsty world is the overflow from our buckets."   
(rds)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Walking With God

"Enoch walked with God...Noah walked with God"

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, we find a great host of God's people who walked with Him, but of only two men is it explicitly said they did so: Enoch and Noah. Their physical temperaments and spiritual experiences may have differed in many ways, but both had two distinct things in common. The first was the day in which they lived. The second, the fact that both walked with God in that day when we're told: "The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually...it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth...the earth [was] filled with violence through them." 

It is no easy thing to walk with God when all around you there is wickedness, violence, corruption and immorality. But it can be done, for we have the Divine record that it has already been done. Micah tells us one of the three things God requires of us is to, "...walk humbly with thy God." Notice there is no qualifying of the day in which we're to do so. 

No matter the time in history, society, or culture, we can walk as God's dear children, with dignity and decency. We can walk the high ground, a plain above and apart from our contemporary world! God has given each of His elect a garment of protection in our plagued environment, to keep us from the evil that surrounds us. It is the Blood of Christ. It makes us overcomers. 

I have found in my fifty-six years of walking with God that He is a wonderful traveling companion. It has been an exciting and exhilarating journey, to say the least. One and all who walk with the King will bear witness to my word.  True, travelling with Him will mean going through some stormy times, but as Paul tells us, "...out of them all the Lord
delivered me." 

A Sunday School teacher taught on Enoch's three-hundred year long walk with God. The following Sunday she asked who among her class of six year old's could recount the story. One little girl stood and said, "Enoch walked with God an awfully long, long, long way. Finally God said to him, 'Enoch, we're closer to my House than yours; why don't you just come home with me?'"

"Oh, who would mind the journey when the road leads Home!" 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cardiphonia

The title of our present article is derived from two Greek words-one meaning heart and the other, sounds-thus, heart sounds. Cardiphonia was first given to a collection of letters by the Rev. John Newton (1781), intended to mean ‘utterance of the heart.' The book of Job speaks of, "uttering words out of the heart." The context meaning, sincerity, genuine, earnest.

Whether referring to the organ of the body or the whole man, Bible students are, for the most part, in agreement, when scriptures speak of the heart, it's in reference to one's affections, the seat of our emotions. It seems to me we've lost heart when it comes to our religion. Christianity, unlike the religions of the world, is a heart religion. Take the heart out of it, and we have a dead religion; it no longer beats with compassion.  

Our churches are filled with heartless preaching, singing, testimonies. And yes, even we Christian writers have lost heart. Paul said he wrote with many tears. One of the last things my beloved mentor said to me, before the Lord took him Home was, "Sonny-Boy, preach to their heart. When you preach to the head you get half a man, but when to the heart, the whole man." 

Among the many quaint sayings of the Irish, there is one I especially like. When describing an individual who talks to you without their words being heartfelt, they say, "They're speaking from the teeth out."