Saturday, October 31, 2015

When God Repents

Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation....Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people...And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

We’ll allow the Bible scholars and theologians to continue their two millennial discussions of the question whether God actually repents or not. As for us, let's just take what the text says and leave alone the secret things that belong to the Lord; majoring rather on the things that belong to us and our children.

I seriously doubt in this pseudo-reverent age that texts such as ours will be understood or even accepted by those habitually excusing God for any and all of His actions. Actions not meeting this religious world’s criteria. That is, in their opinion, how a God should behave Himself properly. To them it is inconceivable He would change His mind. 

For any who may be reading this that are in their infant stage of Christianity, let me briefly explain Biblical repentance. It does not primarily have to do with good or evil but with a change of mind, as seen in Jesus’ story of the two sons, in Matthew 21:28-31. Therefore, we see, Moses asked God to change His mind, and he won out.

How was this great feat accomplished? by arguing from the point of God’s interests. Moses, as Abraham and others, was concerned with God’s great name and His promises to His people.This principle runs throughout the Holy Scriptures. There is nothing that will get God concerned with your interests like you being concerned with His first!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Patience; He Will Return!

And the Lord direct your hearts into the...patient waiting for Christ...Be patient...unto the coming of the Lord...Be ye also patient...for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

No matter what one’s prophetic position as to our Lord’s Second Coming, all agree, waiting is an essential part of this most blessed and important event. We are not only told “to wait for His Son from heaven,” but to wait patiently. Waiting is one thing, but waiting patiently is quite another. To have the first without the latter can be torturous.

Waiting for the arrival and appearance of a loved one whose long absence has created a great longing of the soul, can be difficult as well as agonizing, to say the least. I remember in my early teens, during the Second WW, hearing of wives leaving their husbands, committing infidelity, because of the long wait. Men who in many cases had been their childhood sweethearts, their first-love, so to speak.

The Bible teaches, in the latter days, because many will feel the Lord delays His coming, they will fall away into the arms of this adulteress world. Thereby leaving and forsaking the Lover of their souls. As with Moses of old when he went up into the Mount to be with the Lord, the people gave up their separated position because they refused to wait beyond the allotted time they had imagined. So it will be before His awesome arrival!

As my beloved friend, Marvin Clanton used to say, “Our clocks run fast.” Scriptures tell us, in our Eternal God’s sight, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. According to this, Jesus promised to return to earth a second time, just a little over two days ago.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Agonizing Anticipation

“The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot [so] long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
To be sure, all anticipation is not in anguish; much, if not most, ends in expected delight. But in the scripture cited, I’m afraid the long expectancy was to no avail, Sisera would not be coming home, for he was dead. And no amount of prayer, faith, or hope would change the fact. To continue waiting in such cases is futile. It is simply a waste of time.

So what is one to do in such situations? Well, some spend a life-time blaming themselves or others for the misfortune. Others choose to re-live it on a daily basis, thinking they’ll understand it with time. Still, a large number live in denial; they refuse to accept the reality. There is one thing, though, that characterizes each of these; they live in the past and long for things the way they were.

But there is a fourth group. This little remnant has chosen to pack their bags, so to speak, and move on down the road. They realize such things are a part of life, but not all of life. They have learned to do the next thing. Joyfully finding when they do, the second thing makes up for, and many times surpasses the first thing. They’re aware life is made up of choices, and that they are not responsible for what others choose, only their own decisions. And so, they anticipate the great things God is going to do in their life, as well as in the lives of others who love and serve Him.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Let's Get a Move On (part 2)

"Let Us Go On." The logical question after being told this is, "Where do I start?" Amidst the rubble of devastation that severe trials can bring, we are all prone to become bewildered as to the where to begin again. Such an inquiry is understandable after having the sky fall in on you, so to speak. With all the debris surrounding you from the previous storm it is easy to become mystified.     

To tell one to go back seldom settles anything, for the past is unchangeable. And the future is unknown, so that is futile. It is only in the present that we can determine direction; therefore, start from where you are. You don’t start from the beginning, unless you never started; you start from where you left off. That is, pick-up where you left off. It’s okay to look back in hindsight; that can make you wiser. But to go back, that, my friend, is just stupid.

After the great Chicago fire of 1871, the story was told of a Jewish shop keeper who lost everything. The next day, along with his wife and children, he cleared away the debris where the show window had been. There he placed a sign on a piece of charred wood, that read: “Business tomorrow as usual.” And what more can I say? other than, "Let's get a move on."   

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let's Get a Move On

“Let Us Go On.” The writer of Hebrews spoke these words to newly converted Jewish believers, who were, as they say today, “hanging out” around the old things in their lives. How many of us are like them? We need to heed Oswald Chambers’ wise counsel, “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.” Especially this is true of those deep-souled hurts!

There’s a host of things we need to get a move on and leave behind us. To mention just a few: family problems; failures in our Christian life; health problems; financial setbacks; unreached goals; shameful sins committed; misunderstanding with a friend. Things that cannot be undone. These, with many others, are what chains one to their past, keeping them from moving forward to some great things God has in store for them. No one ever moved on who stood still!

It says of Peter when imprisoned that the angel of the Lord told him to get up, get a move on, and follow him. When he did, we’re told, “the chains fell off.” And so will ours my beloved.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hurdles too High

“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” David went on to say in another Psalm that such things were unattainable for him personally. What a humble man! In spite of his position, possessions, and power, he never attempted to exceed himself, intellectually or spiritually. He knew his limitations in such matters. He was not like some who are educated beyond their intelligence!

I have observed, there is nothing more frustrating for highly intelligent people than to have a hurdle so high that they are unable to clear it. And there is nothing more embarrassing than to see someone with limited knowledge dabbling in things beyond his or her reach. Therefore, let not them of high degree look down on those of a lower station in life; and let not the latter pretend to be the former.

“The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.”
 This is also true intellectually and Spiritually.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Influential Saints

We’re told Stephen was chosen by his brethren to serve tables, so the apostles could give themselves totally to ministering the Word and to prayer. It is written of him, he was filled with the Holy Ghost, wisdom, faith, and power. And this servant of servants did great wonders and miracles; no doubt, the result of humbling himself to such a position. Also it is recorded, the people could not resist the wisdom and spirit in which he spoke. And the climatic tribute the Holy Spirit gives to this saint is, And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”


One individual sitting in the council seeing and hearing Stephen was a young man known as Saul. He later gave his vote to extinguishing the life of this “firebrand.” He was successful in snuffing out the breath but not the blaze. This martyr's testimony continued burning in Saul’s heart till the close of his own life and ministry. It is doubtful Stephen realized the far reaching influence his life would have, both in time and eternity, upon one of the greatest spiritual leaders this world has or ever will know: PAUL the APOSTLE! Stephen’s life hounded Paul until it at last it drove him into the arms of Jesus.


Strong-willed people such as Paul are not easily influenced by others, or anything else, as far as that goes. But in Stephen’s case, as His Lord, his life brought the “wild creature” into submission to his Creator, Lord and God. Job tells us, man is born like a wild ass's colt. Wild, stubborn, untamed. Interestingly, Jesus sat on such in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. A colt on whom never a man sat, but gentleness personified  tamed the wild beast. Can you not now hear Paul before the Throne repeating David’s words, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

THANK YOU!

Dear Reader,

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my heart attract. A seven hour operation with five by-passes. Each morning, before showering I look at that seven inch scar on my chest and thank God for His gift to me. It was litterally the darkest time of my life. I would not want to go through it again, but I cherish what I learned. Psa.119:71

This morning before church I took my walker out of the shed and walked slowly through the house, "Lest I forget." Maybe it might be good for some of you to take some time today to remember back to those dark hours He brought you through.

Thank you for your prayers then and now for God's  sustaining Grace in my life.

An Old Disciple,

Your Brother in Christ

Saturday, October 17, 2015

They Go Together

And [the devil] saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Satan mentions his only desire is for worship; Jesus said our God wants and expects both worship and service. They divinely go together. As the song goes, “You can’t have one without the other.” Like the two wings on a foul, without the one, the bird can’t get into the heavenlies. In other words, unless a saint has the twain in his or her life, it just won’t fly with God.

I’m fearful this younger generation of Christians has fallen for the Serpent's lie that only worship is important. But the scriptures show throughout, the proper order is first worship to God, then to work for God. Not only are we to serve Him on earth, but Revelation tells us we will serve Him day and night (continuously) in Heaven!

Interestingly there is very little, if any, mention about worship in the book of Acts, as pertaining to the church collectively. Most certainly, those Jewish believers worshiped God, for they had been taught it from childhood. But the book of Acts is about Action! They knew nothing of a passive Christianity. From the day the blessed Holy Ghost fell upon them, they were on the move; and didn’t cease till their breath did.

God’s Word teaches, each of us in the body of Christ has a gift . We are responsible to find out what our particular gift is and to utilize it. If service is a blessing we ought to share it; if at times a burden, we should help carry it. Each of us needs to yoke up with the Eternal Servant this very day, and help plow His fields. And then, as Oswald Chambers says, “We must not dictate to Jesus as to where we are going to serve Him.”

I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, to rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Contextual Living

There is a saying among students of the Word of God: “A text taken out of context is a pretext.” This is also true of life; there must be contextual living if one is to interpret his or her life correctly. If not, as Paul tells us, we’ll be, “tossed to and fro.” This is not just true doctrinally, but practically, in our everyday lives.

Whether it be physical, intellectual, or in the spiritual realm, we must keep everything in context. We must confine all happenings in life to our own particular and peculiar God-given makeup. Although there is likeness among us, there is not exactness. There is a uniqueness connected to each of God’s creatures that general observance does not lend itself to. Only detailed study reveals it.

The scripture tells us one of the works of of the flesh is “emulations.” There is no place for copy-cats if we’re to ever feel comfortable in our own skin. God did not make any copies when He made man, only the original. Therefore, we must cease to evaluate our lives and its worth through the prism of others.

“Thine hands have made me and fashioned me...Thou hast made me as clay...He made me in the womb...The Spirit of God hath made me.”    
( Job)
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
(David)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Qualifying Love

We hear much today about “unconditional love.” Which to this generation of Christians as a whole means you can say, do, and act anyway you like; and a “I love you,” fixes it all. But Jesus said (He being the world's greatest authority on love), “If ye love love me, keep my commandments”.

Love has to do more with “showin” than speakin.” Interestingly, the scripture records how the Lord Jesus loved people, but not once did He ever tell anyone personally, “I love you.” Why? John tells us in his first little epistle, My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

True love is an unselfish giving of your dearest and most prized possession, “For God so loved...He gave His only... Son.” It’s seen in the poor widow who, “...cast in all the living that she had.” It is “...suffering the loss of all things,” for another. It’s saying, “[I] have left all to follow thee.”  And it’s seen in one laying their life on the altar, like the whole burnt offering, keeping nothing back for themselves.

Addendum: dedicated to my blessed wife on this our fifty-fourth year of serving our God together in an equal yoke. Had she never told me once she loved me, I would have known. As they say, “Actions speak louder than words!”  

Monday, October 12, 2015

When You Can't Pray

This article is not for the spiritually elite, meaning the super-saint. That is, the saint who would rather die than be seen by their peers as having a chink in their armour. That would be too humiliating; for others to see they too are altogether human. That they are as vulnerable as the common Christian would be too painful.

But, my beloved, be assured of this, there will be times in a child of God’s life when he or she cannot pray. I did not say, will not, but cannot. Times when both the mouth and heart go mute. At such times, things seem so dark around us, so hopeless, there is not an ounce of ask left in us, leaving us in the silent valley of  despair.     

What is one to do when the “ask” has left us? It is then we are to “adore.” In other words, WHEN YOU CAN’T PRAY, YOU PRAISE! When the only light you have is that from the unbearable flames of your fiery trial, Praise Him! “Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires.” And darling David tells us, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.”

Without question, at such times, praise would be considered a great sacrifice. This is what the writer of Hebrews speaks of, I believe. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name...for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. O my beloved, no matter your condition, “PRAISE GOD ANYHOW.”

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Correspondence

Dear Reader: The following is a letter I responded to concerning revival. I sent it to a few, then thought how it might encourage all of you. Remember when reading it, "It is no secret what God can do, what He's done for other's He can do for you!"

Dear brother...your journal has fed me, encouraged me and provoked me to seek my Father more and more.  I eagerly wait for a new truth from you on a daily basis.  My wife and I will read your blog while riding down the highway at times...such clear and sometimes deep truths...I especially enjoy when you mention revivals of old times.  I have often dreamed and prayed to be a part of a great revival someday. Last Monday we began a service in_______.  We've lost count of the souls saved.  We have never experienced this  before.  The whole service seems to be one big altar call without the call.  They just keep coming.

Pastor a very small church in_____.  I preach very few revivals.  We've been holding services in the mornings at the school and The LORD has moved on students unlike anything I've  ever heard of.  Friday the gym floor was filled with students crying out for God.  It went on for almost 5 hours.  This begins our 2nd week.  Please pray for more souls.  I'm so excited.

Last year was my darkest year ever.  My how the Lord turns things around.

Thank you for your writings...
Bro. ________

My Beloved Brother,
I rejoice with you in God's blessings upon your ministry and His people. I have found our Lord does not bless unblessable saints. That is, you must desire His blessings if you're to receive His blessings. He only pours His heavenly down-pours on the thirsty.

Your letter brought back old memories for my wife and me. Similar experiences as your own, times I like to refer to as, "Times of refreshing." Times hard to believe for many when told, unless they were there or had such-like experiences.

As to Revival, when younger, I studied everything I could get my hands on concerning the subject. Also I had the privilege of getting in on the after-glow of the revivals of the 40's. I was honored to talk with some of the evangelists of that era, knew a few personally, and was called a friend by two or three. One such was my mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins.

My personal thoughts on a spiritual awakening is generally this: 1. It starts with one individual or individuals. 2. It moves into the homes. 3. They take it to church. 4. The city is then infected with it. 5. Finally, it spreads throughout the nation. One thing for sure, if no one ever wants or experiences a true revival, one thirsting, longing soul, can have a perennial revival in their own heart.

It is said that Martyn Lloyd-Jones went to his grave saddened by the fact he had never seen a great revival in his lifetime. This is why it is so important to not set your heart and sights on what you don't have, but rather enjoy what you do have in the present. To constantly major on the former will cause you to lose the latter. 

In closing, let me say you can be assured of our prayers, as the blessed Spirit promps us. Also, I am so pleased that our writings are a help to you both. And as to last year being your darkest, our Lord said, "What I tell you in darknessthat speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." Or as Isiah puts it, "And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am [thy] God." And that, my dear brother, was the reason for the darkness, Bless His Holy Name! 

An Old Disciple,

Richard

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Living On Ashes

"For I have eaten ashes like bread.” I would like to take this text in its applicational form rather than its interpretational setting. I’d like to spiritualize it, if you’ll permit me. Paul tells us we are justified in doing so, for, says he, all scripture is profitable for not only doctrine , but instruction in righteousness, also.

Ashes remind us of something that once was, but is no more. The ashes on the Old Testament altar represented various offerings to God, but were now past. The offerer could not live on them in the present. One cannot live on yesterday’s ashes. There must be daily sacrifices, fresh ones, if one is to please God.

One of the responsibilities of the priests in the Old Testament was to never let the flame on the altar go out, because the flame represented the presence of God. The flame was to burn day and night. The priest, daily, would remove the ashes from the altar and take them outside the camp. IF NOT REMOVED, THE FIRE WOULD GO OUT.

Some of us, I fear, are living on yesterday’s blessings. It’s time to remove the ashes from the altar of our lives. And if the fire has gone out, to re-kindle it again!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ezekiel's Four-Faced Creatures

“And every one had four faces.” Years ago, a man many considered “mighty in the scriptures,” asked me a question, and then answered it himself. He said, “Do you know why I’ve never taught on Ezekiel? Because I do not have the slightest idea what some of those things mean.” This is why I only want to use our text as an “instruction in righteousness.” To do any more could bring real embarrassment to this old man. I’ll leave the book to some of my more learned brethren.

Like the creatures in our scripture, I’m afraid many of us have different faces at different times, all because we do not really know who we are. If not that, we certainly show by this multiplicity of faces we are not happy with our own God-given one. William Shakespeare wrote, “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” Carbons are never as good as the original. Its useless trying to be someone else, as Charles Schulz’s, Snoopy, says, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

If you don’t know who you are, you’ll never know who God is! For you’ll invariably view Him through another’s specs. The seven sons of Sceva, who attempted to emulate Paul, had no idea who God was. But by being copies, they opened themselves up to demon possession. Not being comfortable in your own skin is more serious than most realize.

The world doesn’t know who they are and they wish Christians to have the same knowledge. Someone has so aptly said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; but never stop fighting.”

Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, to gain applause which he cannot keep. Samuel Johnson

Monday, October 5, 2015

Iconoclastic

As a writer, I claim C.S. Lewis as my mentor. Though it has been posthumously, nevertheless, I feel it has been accomplished scripturally (Heb. 11:4b). While reading him some time ago, I came across a word he used that I like very much. “It is the title” of this article, iconoclastic. It means, “An idol breaker.”

Moses was an iconoclast. We read in Exodus of him speaking to God’s elect: “And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, [and] ground [it] very small, [even] until it was as small as dust.” Men such as he, then or now, are not too appreciated by the carnal crowd, who worship man-made gods.

Idolatry not only plagued Old Testament saints, but New Testament believers as well. John exhorts, “Little children keep yourselves from idols.” Anything or anyone put before, or set alongside, God is an idol and must go. And it need not be evil in itself. In fact, it may be something Scriptural and Spiritual. You know, like Isaac!

“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe—Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why I Love C.S. Lewis' Writings

The following quote is one of the great reasons for my love of C.S. Lewis. It is not for the “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,” crowd. But directed to the, “God be merciful to me…” folks.

"My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God's grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over—I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless."

Friday, October 2, 2015

When All Has Been Said

The little quip, “After all is said and done,” basically means, you’re about to ​tell someone the most ​importantfact they should ​remember in a ​situation. I was reminded of this saying after watching the great scholar and theologian, J.I. Packer, now in his nineties, interviewed recently. This intellectual and spiritual giant of a man, with untold Godward achievements under his belt, said that after seventy years of walking with God, knowing and worshiping the LORD he believes to be the most important thing in his or anyone else's life.

Let it be understood, I am for constantly sharpening the edge of one’s intellect, so to speak. And above all, being saturated (soaked) in the Holy Scriptures, which leads to the study of God’s Word. But as useful and necessary as these things may be, after all has been said and done, in the final analyses, worshiping, adoring, and praising your Sovereign is what Jesus said God is seeking. He is looking for those who, like darling David, will stand awestruck in His presence, sometimes unable to speak in spite of being so full of adoration.

When God created Adam in His own image there were no lost sinners for him to win and put another notch in his gospel gun handle, or large artifices, called churches, to gloat and glory in. Nor was there anything he needed to pray for. (It’s also the same in heaven). The ONE thing standing before Adam was his Creator and God, who desired his loving worship, for Who He was and what He had done for His own creation.

When God saved us sinners He restored His fallen image in us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. First and foremost, He wants from us what He desired from the first man created in His image, Adam. Are we meeting the longing of His dear and blessed heart?