Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Last Days

Regular readers of The Journal, even a casual one, would come to my defense, I believe, if I were accused of being a gloom and doom writer. I try to stay away from “novelty doctrines.” Nevertheless, anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church is aware every age had devotees, who believed their age to be the last. The signs mania is as old as the Church itself.

The writer of Hebrews plainly pinpoints the “last days” as beginning with Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have lived in the last days for over 2000 years. But having said this, any logical, thinking person, would have to admit, there must to be a last for the last days someday. Believe what you will about the last day advocates, but it all has to come to an end, one day. One camp would have us believe that day is present; whereas the other would suggest it is sometime in the distant future.

My personal view is that although there have always been signs, they have been selective and local, rather than entire and world-wide in their appearance. I believe before our Lords returns the second time to earth, the many signs referred to in scriptures will be entire in their number, universal in scope, and simultaneous in their goings-on (such as earthquakes).  I could be wrong in my assessment, but one way or the other, as my dear friend Dr. John R. Rice used to say, “Jesus is coming again, signs or no signs.” AMEN!  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

He Knows All About Us

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I like one old writer’s comment on this text of how Jesus’ words helped ease the disciples embarrassment for sleeping while He was agonizing in prayer. Not by a stern rebuke or an unending scolding. But by simply letting them know He understood their weaknesses and limitations. Precious truth, is it not, that our God became flesh that He might understand our weaknesses? Much of the book of Hebrews is about this very thing. 

He’s acquainted with our human nature. Not only the important issues we face in life, but the trivial also. For example: having a limited wardrobe; parents who almost got a divorce; physical exhaustion; loved ones misunderstanding; being grieved; extreme loneliness; fixing breakfast; being laughed at; criticized for His Godly life; rebuked by an inferior; having to borrow a penny; to weep and groan; and to suffer excruciating pain in death. Not to mention a host of other things associated with mankind.

Sitting on the side of her little girl’s bed, after prayer and a kiss goodnight, the mother rose to leave the bedroom and turn out the light. But before she could the wee one explained, “Mommy, I’m afraid in the dark.” To which the mother replied, “You need not be. God is here, although you can’t see Him.” The girl answered, “I know, but I want someone with skin on him.” And this is exactly what God did for us, His fearful children. “And the Word (God) was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Thing at Hand

“This One Thing I Do” The Apostle did not mean the only thing when he mentions one thing. He was speaking of the main thing. He could walk and chew gum at the same time, but the former was the most important. Chewing gum would not have gotten him where he was going.

Paul majored on the majors. Far too many are majoring on minors. We do it in our daily duties, doctrinal beliefs, as well as a score of other things pertaining to life and religion. Any good housewife and cook knows it’s the main course that counts. The side dishes are not meant to be the main dish.

In any given situation, decide what is top priority, what really counts, what is most important to God as well as to yourself. Then do it with everything that’s in you. As David said, when readying for God’s House, Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God.”  

It is good to remember the thing at hand, big or small, menial or noble, could possibly be the last thing we ever do on earth before meeting God!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Prayer

“For mercies countless as the sands,
Which daily I receive
From Jesus, my Redeemer’s hands,
My soul, what canst thou give?

Alas! from such a heart as mine
What can I bring Him forth?
My best is stained and dyed with sin,
My all is nothing worth.

Yet this acknowledgment I’ll make,
For all He has bestowed:
Salvation’s sacred cup I’ll take,
And call upon my God.”
(John Newton , 1725-1807)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Not Mandatory

“If he offer…the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” A number of the Levitical offerings were mandatory, but the thank offering was voluntary. It was not “when ye offer,” but “if ye offer.” As far as I can find, no one offered this voluntary sacrifice of thanksgiving until David—not Moses, not Aaron, or anyone else. For close to 500 years, God had not smelled a sweet savor of a thank offering. Is it any wonder this shepherd boy, who became a man of God, had wiggled his way into God’s heart? How pleased the Lord was with such sacrifices. God seems to have an affinity for those who are most appreciative.

The Scriptures abound with the subject of thanksgiving. “In everything give thanks”; “Always giving thanks..;” “Come before his presence with thanksgiving.” If the Bible did not teach the giving of thanks, common courtesy would demand it for all God’s goodness to us. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good.” In Jesus’ prayers, He said, “I thank thee, O Father…” That’s an excellent example to follow. Let me suggest the next time you have the hum-drums, to try thanksgiving.

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Watcha Waitin For?

And now, Lord, what wait I for? ” A good question to ask, especially at this time of the year, when it is drawing to a close. I find all of us, in one way or the other, have made a profession out of procrastination. Some of us have become very proficient in it. We like to wait for the turn of the year until circumstances change, or when we have arrived, wherever that might be.

There is a lot of truth in the little quip, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” One of my philosophies in life, though I do not always adhere to it is, “When you know what God wants you to do, do it. If you don’t, the devil will talk you out of it.” Again, one of my homespun sayings will fit here: “I’m gonna never done nothin!” Begin now where you are. We’re not promised tomorrow, only today.

Let’s lay aside future resolutions and resolve today to take care of the task at hand!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Trusting God Around the Clock

When I first started preaching, I believed there should be a one-time committal by a believer to trust God with their life. As the years went on, I narrowed it down to a daily trust. I now see the Lord wants us to trust Him on a moment by moment basis.

David knew this blessed and revitalizing truth. In Psalm 62:8, he admonishes us to “trust in him at all times...” Not some of the time, but all of the time. We’re to depend upon God to perform all things for us. We are to have a habitual confidence in Him. Every second of the day, on every occasion, whether it be in emergency or elation, we’re to trust in Him.

On the screen of my cell phone I have put “Trust in God.” It matters not if the sun is shining, or in the blackness of night. The time, place, and circumstances do not change what is written. If I call for help, or just chat with a loved one, I always see the words, “Trust in God.”

In the future, may the Holy Spirit help each of us, when looking at a clock or watch, to remember we are to trust in God, no matter what time it is.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Our Way Home

After my tour of duty in Korea in 1951, I remember as just a teen, the commanding officer calling me into his office and saying, “You're going home, son.” I have no words to express the exuberant spirit that came over me. Home: Mom, loved ones, friends, all awaiting my arrival. And I longing to see them. Generally speaking I find what you don’t desire you don’t love.

I sincerely feel sadness for those Believers who, for lack of a better term, have put all their eggs in this world’s basket. Most certainly, we’re to enjoy life and the things God has given us, but always remembering this earth is headed for the ash-heap. He’s going to remake it. This world, as we know it, is only an inn where we stay on our way Home. Home is not only where the heart is, but where God is!

C.S. Lewis writes of going home to Ireland and applies it to Heaven: “These last few days! Every little nuisance, every stale or tiresome bit of work, every feeling of that estrangement which I never quite get over in another country, serves as a delightful reminder of how different it will all be soon. Already one’s mind dwells upon the sights and sounds and smells of home.”

Again, Lewis speaking of our final Home: “ We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard.” And to quote another writer, Henry Jowett: “Truly we are like children going home, jubilant and glad. We have been in the far country and our garments are stained.”

“Even the tired horse, when he comes near home, mends his pace,”
(Thomas Adams~Puritan)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Intellectual Biblical Scholarship

Nothing is harder to digest than an “intellectual snob,” that is, unless it is an “ignorant slob!” When the Bible says that some of Jesus’ followers were “unlearned and ignorant men,” it does not mean illiterate, but simply that they were void of any formal education. That Spiritual and intellectual giant A.W. Tozer, had only a ninth grade education. But he was known as the “Master Wordsmith.”

I was associated for years with a group that felt that anything that had the smell of intellect or scholarship associated with it should be viewed suspiciously. In fact, in most cases, it was just downright rejected from the first. It must be wrong, they reasoned, for it had “brains.” To them, God had rejected any and all great thinkers. This is, no doubt, the reason that little comes from this group that is worth reading. They equate scholarship with liberalism. To be sure, when one opposes godly scholarship they’re allowing their insecurity to show through!

I, for one, thank God for humble, Spirit-filled scholars. For example, where would we Bible students be without some of their reference books? And who would defend our Christian position before the intellects of the world? Usually, this type (worldly intellects) only give ear to their equal, or one who is superior. Intellectual scholarship has been used of God to bring many an intellectual infidel into the Kingdom of God. Thank God for men such as Cornelius Van Til, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, etc., who have influenced thousands from among the worldly wise to join Christ’s Blood-bought band.

Scholarship without the Spirit is like having an arrow without a bow; it can’t get the point across…while ignorance is like holding a bow without an arrow; you have no point to make.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Lasting Legacy

“…this woman was full of good works…” This was Dorcas’ lasting legacy. She put into practice what Paul preached: “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.” She not only had a pattern for the coats and garments she made, but, more importantly, she left them a Godly “cut-out” that they might pattern their lives after.

Seneca was one of the greatest of the Stoic philosophers. He was falsely accused by Nero of conspiracy and ordered to take his own life. He was refused the right to leave a will. Turning to his weeping family and friends, he said he would leave them the best thing he had— the pattern of his life.

Good works speak louder than great words.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Laying it to Herat

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.”

The glory of God is the one aim and end of the saint's life. It is the main principle and rule for our very existence. The awful result of not doing so is to have God curse one's blessings, spiritually as well as materially. The things that God provides for our wealth, like the Jews in our text, can become our want.

King Midas thought it a blessing that everything he touched turned to gold, until he touched his daughter. Then the blessing became a curse. It’s a serious thing to not take God seriously. Christianity is a serious business. Cross-bearing is not for the frivolous! In Bible times, if you saw a man carrying a cross you knew he wasn’t going to a banquet.

God is not against “fun and games,” but in the midst of them we’re to remember the tremendous price He paid that we could enjoy fullness of life. Our joy and happiness came at a great cost to both the Father and Son. In the midst of the cheerfulness of a wedding,  Jesus had the Father’s business on His mind. He laid it to heart. Should not we?

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

There-Was a Man

In todays population I can understand a little how God must have felt when He told Ezekiel, “I sought for a man among them…but I found none.” I’m not speaking of what the world defines as manly, but God’s description. The former always looks on the outward appearance, while the latter views the inside. And so, let us be clear, we’re not addressing a physical roughness, but ruggedness of character. It is possible to be big on the outside, with a midget of a man on the inside. On the other hand, I’ve met many a man who was small of stature, but who was a giant of a man within.

We have so-called Christian writers today who, while posing as a man, stand hiding themselves behind a fountain pen. And many in our pulpits want to pass themselves off as real men, who stand for something, but are actually only kept up by the starch in their clothes! My personal description of a man is one who does what needs to be done, simply because it needs doing, regardless of the cost. My Grandpa Morrison worked as a night-watchman forty years at a paper mill, and he never missed a day in all that time; while raising a family of seven. He proudly received his gold pocket-watch at retirement. He was 5’2’’ and weighted 125 pounds. WHAT A MAN HE WAS!

When a male was born in Bible times he was referred to as a, “Man child.” In other words, every male child was born with the potential of being a real man. Only by either neglect, or by training and conditioning, will he be otherwise. Feminization of the male spirit is unnatural! This is why a single mother must keep her son(s) around manly men. Timothy’s mother and grandmother did a super job; but it was Paul who put the icing on the cake. From childhood, I cannot remember a day that I have not admired manliness, and wanted only to be a part of their clan. On my tomb-stone, I know of no greater epitaph to have than what was said of John the Baptist, “There was a man.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Its Gotta Be Earned

I find many in today’s shallow and unprincipled culture believe unconditional love automatically carries with it unequivocal respect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The former is free, the latter earned. The first is a gift, the second is merited.

People who possess real character are so constituted that they refuse to give (or accept) respect on a wholesale basis. Never mistake a person accepting who you are, for thinking they approve of the way you are.

We are told in the scriptures “…the Lord had respect unto Abel…But unto Cain…he had not respect.” From this we find that if one is to gain God’s respect, a body must be presented Him as a living sacrifice (Ro.12:1-2).

A father may love all his children alike, but that doesn’t mean he respects them all the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Unsought Blessings

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”

There was no prayer, that we know of, made for this son; nor, as in many cases, was Jesus sought out for help. This is what I like to call, an unsought blessing. In one of Peter’s sermons, he tells us God sent His Son to bless us. Anyone who is the least familiar with the Bible knows God is in the blessing business! And I may add, He will never go out of this business! Its everlasting. He’s still dropping, “handfuls of purpose.”

David, no doubt, was referring to these unsought blessings when he wrote, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth (I like this word) us with benefits.” God delights in showering His creatures with blessings. Even those who refuse to own Him as their Lord. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” It’s a sorry person who takes God’s blessings for granted.

I love the sentiment behind the song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” But those who really know Him realize this is an impossibility. It would be like numbering the stars.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Godly Doubters

Does our title sound like a misnomer? Well it isn’t. Good and godly people can have doubts from time to time, for one reason or another. At the very start of John the Baptist’s ministry, he had affirmed who Jesus was with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God.” But later on, toward the end of his ministry, from a secluded prison cell, the prophet sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Art thou He…or do we look for another?”

During this dark time in the life of one of our Lord’s choice servant’s lives, Jesus replies in the affirmative to the first part of his question, then adds, saying, to all present, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” This reminds me of the time I pastored in Florida years ago. There was a preacher in a neighboring town who taught that if a Christian ever doubted, he or she was lost. How un-Christ like! How un-scriptural!

My sweet and blessed mother-in law, whom I referred to simply as “Mamaw,” had Alzheimer’s before the Lord called her home. During those days when she looked through a glass darkly, she questioned whether or not her husband, “Hoppy,” was really her husband. My father-in-law lovingly took their marriage license, put it in a frame, and hung it on a wall where she could see it regularly. Need I apply this precious story to those times when we too, like Mamaw, have our times of confusion and doubt?

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Empty Lives

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”

Jesus tells us there can be no neutrality in one’s life; you are either for or against; hot or cold. The reason so many Christian lives are tasteless and unfulfilled is because they’re empty of what gives life meaning: GOD. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” 

An empty life is an invitation for Satan to fill it. You can’t leave God out of your life and not expect Satan to move in. He’s always searching for passivity in the lives of God’s children. You can be sure if your life is void of God, something or someone will fill that vacuum. A life without the fullness of God is of no use to ourselves or others. 

And let no professing Christian boast in the fact he or she has cleaned up their life. This in itself does not prove one has a God-filled life. Satan, we’re told, comes as an angel of light. He doesn’t care if a life is clean just as long as it is a self-cleaning life. What he fears is when God does the scrubbing.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Great Exorcism

The words exorcist or exorcism, are not found in the Bible. They’re used in our present day, almost exclusively, by the Catholic Church and media. One definition is: one who drives (forces) out evil spirits. Jesus had power to cast out devils, and He gave this authority to the Seventy and His Apostles. Also after the accession, His followers exercised this gift. But they or the event were never referred to as exorcists, or exorcism. Many superstitious professional exorcists existed both in Jesus’ and Paul’s day. They were known as “vagabond Jews.”
We hear much in our contemporary age, in certain segments of religion,  of the casting out of demons from individuals. But would it shock you to know  there is coming a world-wide “exorcism” ? Old John on Patmos tells us, when Christ returns to this earth, the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone...and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  This is the reason, no doubt, Satan’s anger grows and his efforts increase as he sees this great and dreadful day approaching! Thus ending the global war between God and His elect against him.
Although Christ conquered Satan at Calvary, his final sentencing will not take effect till His glorious appearing the second time. Until then, we are to reckon our Lord’s victory over the devil as our own. Just as high school students say, after a victorious sports event, “We Won!” meaning, their representatives won it for them, on their behalf, if you please. Wonderful it is that weak, sinful saints as ourselves have the means to overcome the Wicked One. And how is this accomplished? And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
And this, dear reader, is what you call, “Undefeated Optimism!”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Something I've Learned

The old Methodist Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. wrote a book entitled, Some Things I Have Learned. Every Christian ought to obtain a copy of this book, and then spiritually devour it.

On October the 15th I turned eighty-two years of age, and there is something I’ve learned in my fifty-eight years as a child of God. That is this: Jesus Christ is the sum total of all things. If He is not the final answer to all things, then your life adds up to nothing. Not only can you do nothing without Him, but you are nothing without Him!

A Sunday school teacher taught a class of six year olds. She made Jesus the main character in every story she taught. Before presenting an object lesson on one Sunday she asked, “Class, what has a bushy tail, lives in a tree, and hides away its food for winter?” Little Johnny raised his hand and answered, “Teacher it sure sounds like a squirrel to me, but I know the answer is Jesus.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Taming of the Wild Man

“Neither could any man tame him.” Shakespeare had his, “Taming of the Shrew”; the Bible goes one better (as always) with, “The Taming of the Wild Man.” Not the bringing under control of a cantankerous individual, as in the play, but one of whom it is said: he dwelt in tombs; was naked; cried out night and day; was exceeding fierce; cutting himself with stones; driven of Satan into the wilderness; bound with chains and fetters, which he snapped like thread; and worse of all, out of his right mind.

This man was completely controlled by a legion of devils, from the kingdom of darkness. So much so was he possessed that we’re told, no man could tame him! That is, until  “THE MAN, CHRIST JESUS” came along. Putting Him into the equation always changes the situation.

When we’re confronted with the hard cases, we need to remember God’s question to Jeremiah and the prophet’s answer: God: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? “ Jeremiah:Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”

No man could tame the manic; and two-thousand devils out of hell couldn’t stop Jesus from delivering him!  Hallelujah for the LAMB!             

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Parental Needs

“…and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” This is Mark’s moving account of the healing of a young man, devil-possessed (Mk.9:14-29). One would think that our compassionate Lord would have immediately taken care of this crucial situation. But, instead, He begins a conversation with the boy’s father about the lad’s history and the father’s belief. All this, while the man’s son is wallowing at their feet, foaming at the mouth, gnashing his teeth in pain.

At the close of the story, we find the purpose of this time interval. It is apparent that the Great Physician cured more than the patient. He helped the parent, also. During this waiting time, the father’s faith was tested, and he was taught parental patience. Often we parents think our children’s sad condition is the only issue. But, at the end of the ordeal, embarrassed, we find we were not in too good of spiritual shape ourselves!